Symptoms of diabetes
If diabetes is not controlled and the level of glucose in the bloodstream remains consistently high, symptoms may occur. Most commonly these include frequent urination (wanting to go to the toilet), feeling thirsty, or feeling very tired.
Other symptoms, such as blurred vision, or genital itching or thrush may also appear in some people.
In type 1 diabetes, symptoms typically appear rapidly over a short period of time, such as a few days or weeks. There may also be significant weight loss.
In type 2 diabetes, a pattern of symptoms generally emerges more slowly, over weeks or months. Some people with type 2 diabetes may experience few symptoms, or even none at all. Regardless of whether symptoms occur, people with type 2 diabetes still require medical care and treatment to prevent longer-term complications such as cardiovascular disease or other kinds of organ damage.
Hyperglycaemia is the medical name for having too much glucose in the blood. Mild hyperglycaemia may cause no symptoms at all, but more severe hyperglycaemia can lead to a hyperglycaemic attack, signalled by dehydration, feeling very tired and frequent urination. Hyperglycaemia can result in a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, where the body uses stored fat as a source of energy instead of glucose, leading to a change in the body’s natural acid balance which has potential to be very harmful. Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency.
Hypoglycaemia means having too little glucose in the blood. Signs of a hypoglycaemic attack (or ‘hypo’) include feeling sweaty, shaky, irritable or confused. If hypoglycaemia is suspected, a sugary drink should be taken immediately, or glucose tablets, followed by food that will produce glucose over a longer period, such as a sandwich or biscuits.