First Symptoms of Diabetes

First Symptoms of Diabetes
First Symptoms of Diabetes (Image: Insulin Pen Needle (Creative Commons photo by Aki Hänninen))

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high levels of blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, which is a pancreatic hormone. Diabetes results when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body doesn't respond correctly to the insulin. The early symptoms of diabetes are often too subtle or seem so harmless that many people aren't aware they have a serious medical condition. Learn more about the first symptoms of diabetes.

Excessive Thirst and Urination

One of the first symptoms of diabetes to appear is excessive thirst and urination. These classic signs of diabetes occur because a diabetic's kidneys have to work overtime to keep filtering and absorbing the excess blood sugar, which is called glucose. When the kidneys are overwhelmed by high levels of blood sugar, the excess glucose is excreted through urination. Frequent urination triggers an excessive thirst, which makes a diabetic urinate even more.


Another early symptom of diabetes is unexplained fatigue. This fatigue is primarily caused because a diabetic's body doesn't have the insulin it needs to allow the blood sugar to enter cells, where it can be converted into energy. Without the energy necessary to fuel the body's processes, the diabetic feels extremely tired. Other diabetes-related conditions might also contribute to fatigue, particularly dehydration, obesity and high blood pressure.

Blurred Vision

Many individuals who are in the early stages of diabetes start experiencing vision problems, particularly blurred vision. High levels of blood sugar floating around the bloodstream result in fluid being pulled from body tissues, including the lenses of the eyes. The lack of fluids causes the eyes to be unable to focus. If the diabetes worsens or isn't treated, it can damage the blood vessels in the retina and lead to severe vision loss or blindness.

Weight Loss

Another one of the first symptoms of diabetes is a sudden, unexplained weight loss. The diabetic typically excretes a lot of calories as well as excess blood sugar through the frequent urination. At the same time, the diabetes is usually stopping the glucose from reaching body cells to be converted into energy. Because their bodies are starved for energy, diabetics are often excessively hungry. The combined effect of these two conditions can trigger sudden weight loss.

Other First Symptoms

Many diabetics have frequent infections, particularly bladder infections and vaginal infections. Diabetics often have dry, itchy skin, and sores and bruises take a long time to heal. These symptoms might be the result of the high levels of glucose impairing the body's natural healing processes. Excess blood sugar can also cause nerve damage, which can result in a numb, burning or tingling sensation in the arms, hands, legs or feet.

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