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Blog Diabetes

What are the Early Symptoms of Diabetes?

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.

December 30, 2020 Read Time - 6 minutes

Learn the Early symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is a long-lasting disease that affects how your body turns food into energy.

If you have diabetes, your body cannot convert glucose (sugar) into energy because of damaged cells called insulin-producing beta cells. 

After you eat, blood sugar is released into your bloodstream. Normally, this triggers a hormone called insulin to be released that takes blood sugar back into your body’s cells for energy.

Depending on the type of diabetes you have, insulin may not be made at all by your pancreas, or limitedly made, but your body does not respond to it well.

If you have diabetes, your body does not break down sugar (glucose) appropriately, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

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What are the Early Symptoms of Diabetes? 

Some of the early symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased appetite, despite eating enough (polyphagia)

These symptoms are often referred to as the three P’s, referring to the medical terminology for each. The three P’s often occur, but not always, together.

This is your body’s natural response to try and flush out the extra sugar in your blood; however, this is not effective in lowering your blood sugar.

These symptoms are considered red flags for diabetes.

Can Diabetes Come on Suddenly?

Type 1 diabetes tends to come on suddenly, while type 2 diabetes comes on gradually.

Type 1 diabetes comes on suddenly due to the lack of insulin production in the body while with type 2 diabetes insulin production is limited, but still productive, thus gradual.

Type 1 diabetes can come on in a matter of weeks, while Type 2 diabetes can develop over the course of several years and can be mild.

Many people with type 2 diabetes do not have alarming symptoms which is why it is often overlooked.

It is important to see a primary care doctor once a year for a check-up and physical examination.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of Undiagnosed Diabetes?

People with undiagnosed diabetes often have common symptoms.

If you are exhibiting the symptoms below there is a good chance that your blood glucose levels may be too high.

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Weight gain
  • Vision changes
  • Patches of darker skin, especially on the back of the neck, armpit, or groin area
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Cuts and bruises that take longer to heal
  • Blurry vision

If left untreated and undiagnosed, diabetes can cause severe cellular and organ damage, specifically kidney, heart, and brain damage.

High blood glucose levels can also damage tiny blood vessels in the eyes. It is important to take action at the first signs of diabetes.

How do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar is Low?

Depending on the food you eat, hormones, and overall health, your body’s blood glucose levels change throughout the day.

Normally, blood glucose levels slightly increase after meals, lower after your body absorbs nutrients, and also decrease at night, while asleep.

When you have diabetes, your blood glucose level may be severely imbalanced at times. An imbalance in blood glucose levels, either too high or too low, can cause symptoms to occur. 

Too low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) levels can be extremely dangerous for those diagnosed and undiagnosed with diabetes.

It is important to know the symptoms of low blood glucose levels so that you can take action immediately before it gets to fatal levels. Signs and symptoms of low blood glucose include:

  • Cool, clammy skin
  • New onset confusion
  • Nausea
  • Feeling shaky
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Feeling irritable
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling hungry
  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed with blood and urine tests. These tests include:

  • Random blood sugar test
  • Glycated hemoglobin A1C test (HgA1C)
  • Fasting blood sugar test
  • Antibody test
  • Urine ketone test

Random and fasting blood sugar tests measure the amount of glucose in the blood at random times and after fasting overnight.

HgA1C tests measure the average blood sugar level over the last 3 months. Antibody tests are often used to diagnosed type 1 diabetes. 

Your doctor may also take a urine sample to diagnose diabetes. The test is looking for fat cell waste products, called ketones. Ketones present in the urine also suggest diabetes.

Is Diabetes Curable?

No, type 1 and type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, only managed.

An exception to this rule is with gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes may be cured once a pregnant woman is no longer pregnant. But there is no known cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Both can only be controlled and treated.

How is Diabetes Treated?

Early treatment of diabetes is the most effective treatment. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of complications.

It is important to effectively treat diabetes as soon as possible.

Depending on the type of diabetes, patients can take tablets to treat their diabetes, while other patients use injectable insulin. Some use a combination of both.

Taking tablets versus injections depends on:

  • The type of diabetes you have
  • Your current diabetes control
  • Your target A1c level
  • How much insulin your body makes
  • Your kidney function

Insulin injections specifically, long-acting and fast-acting, injectables are common treatment plans. Some patients must inject insulin into their body several times a day. 

As with any prescription medication, diabetic medication has side effects.

Injectable insulin is available in many forms. Insulin injectables are available in:

  • Syringe form
  • Pen injectable form
  • Jet injector
  • Insulin port
  • Insulin pump

Treatment includes frequent doctor’s visits as well as taking the right medications. Treatment is based upon your A1C level.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that A1C levels remain at or below 7%.

Advancements in diabetes management have come a long way from past treatment options. You can live a long and healthy life with diabetes.

All it takes is the right healthcare team, dedication, and commitment to a treatment plan.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Get Diabetes Treatment Online

Did you know that online doctors can diagnose diabetes and provide ongoing treatment plans?

The board-certified physicians here at PlushCare frequently work with diabetes patients to create lasting care plans. Our doctors can order diabetes diagnostic testing, make official diagnoses and even prescribe medication to help with diabetes management.

You can book an appointment here, or download the free PlushCare mobile app. 97% of conditions are successfully treated on the first visit.


Read More About Early Symptoms of Diabetes


References

American Diabetes Association. 2020. Type 1 diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/type-1 

American Diabetes Association. 2020. Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/type-2 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/index.html

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). National diabetes statistics report, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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