What Symptoms Will Diabetes Bring?

Diabetes is one of most common chronic diseases worldwide. Here're the most commonly observed signs of diabetes. Bonus, know when complications happen.

Diabetes is a clinical syndrome characterized by raised levels of blood glucose levels due to deficiency of insulin (absolute and/or relative). Diabetes mellitus is further differentiated into two major types: type 1 diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Know let's get to know all major symptoms of diabetes.

What Symptoms Will You Have When Suffering from Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes mellitus usually affects people younger than 40 years of age. Usually, it presents with sudden onset of symptoms (frequent urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, fatigue and weight loss). Occasionally it might be first discovered after an episode of ketoacidosis during an intercurrent illness, like a respiratory tract infection or any surgery or any other severe stress.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is usually asymptomatic in the beginning and generally it is discovered on routine screening or because of the symptoms due to one or more complications of the long standing diabetes. This condition is more common in people with age above 40 years. Ketoacidosis is very rare in type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, the affected person may develop hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS).

The table given below lists the most commonly observed symptoms of diabetes. Ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) are described later.

Table 1: Symptoms Accompanying Diabetes

Diabetes Types

Symptoms

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Frequent Urination
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Hunger
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Ketoacidosis

Type 2 Diabetes

  • More likely to be asymptomatic
  • Any of the above symptoms can occur
  • Symptoms due to complications are more common

Symptoms When Complications of Diabetes Happen

Long standing diabetes mellitus affects many organ systems of the body and is associated with numerous complications. The most commonly observed complications and their symptoms are listed in the table below. It is important to note that not all complications and their symptoms will occur in every person with diabetes.

Table 2: Complications of DM and the Symptoms

Complications of Diabetes

Symptoms

Eye Diseases

  • Blurring of Vision
  • Loss of vision in parts of the visual field which slowly progresses (e.g. tunnel vision)
  • Complete Blindness
  • Cataract, Glaucoma and Retinopathy are the commonly observed diseases.

Nephropathy

  • Loss of protein in urine in early stages
  • Nonspecific symptoms like poor sleep, loss of appetite, weakness, and difficulty in concentrating.
  • May progress to renal failure

Coronary Artery Disease

  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Low exercise tolerance
  • May cause heart attack

Immune System Dysfunction

  • Skin Infections- Carbuncles, Furuncles, etc.
  • Urinary Tract Infection- Burning urination, frequent urination, Fever with chills, nausea, vomiting, cloudy urine, etc.
  • Gingivitis- Red, Swollen and Painful Gum

Impaired Wound Healing

  • Any wound heals slowly
  • Non healing sores in the mouth
  • Ulcers in the foot heal slowly
  • Poorly healed wound frequently gets secondarily infected because of concomitant immune system dysfunction

Neuropathy

  • Tingling, Numbness, Pins-and-needles sensations in Limbs
  • Loss of sensations or Increased sensations
  • Burning or Dull Aching Pain in limbs
  • Different symptoms depending upon which nerve is involved
  • Postural Hypotension (dizziness or fall on rising from sitting or supine position)
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Incontinence (urinary and/or fecal)
  • Impotence and Retrograde Ejaculation

Foot Ulcers

  • Non healing ulcers in the foots
  • Calluses in the foot
  • Ulcers might become secondarily infected

Gastroparesis

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Early satiety
  • Loss of appetite

Skin Diseases

  • Skin infections (carbuncles, furuncles)
  • Vaginal Candidiasis
  • Diabetic dermopathy (brown, scaly patches)
  • Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (large, raised, shiny scars)

Peripheral Arterial Disease

  • Pain in legs on walking some distance
  • Gangrene
  • Impotence

Symptoms of Diabetes Due to Medical/Surgical Emergencies

Some of the complications of diabetes mellitus are immediately life threatening and require immediate medical or surgical intervention. These are mentioned separately in the table given below. Hypoglycemia is easily treatable by taking glucose and hospitalization is not needed for it. It is mentioned here because it can be fatal if it is not recognized immediately.

Table 3: Emergency Conditions in DM

Emergency Conditions

Symptoms

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (Type 1 DM)

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Fruity odor in the breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Altered consciousness of even coma in severe cases

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State (Type 2 DM)

  • Dehydration like increased thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, low blood pressure
  • Altered consciousness
  • Temporary paralysis
  • Convulsions and coma in severe cases

Hypoglycemia (treatment complication)

  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Raised heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Vision disturbances
  • Confusion
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Convulsions and Loss of consciousness in severe cases

Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accidents)

  • Symptoms extremely variable depending upon the size and location of the stroke
  • Altered mental state
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in hearing/vision/taste
  • Weakness of arm/leg/face (usually unilateral)
  • Difficulty in performing tasks (writing, reading, walking swallowing, urination etc.)
  • Altered sensations (paresthesias) or numbness, etc.
  • Sudden Death

Infected Diabetic Foot

  • Non healing foot ulcers may become secondarily infected
  • Symptoms may be localized to foot (sever pain, swelling, discharge, etc.)
  • Infection may spread to other parts of the body via blood (person may present with septic shock)
  • Often amputation is needed to save life.

Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

  • Severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Profuse sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Felling of impending death

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