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Symptoms of diabetes: the diabetes symptoms to watch out for

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If you, or anyone you know, suspects they might have diabetes, the first thing you should do is go and get a blood test at a doctor, pharmacy or clinic. The simple pin-prick finger test is painless and quick, and can tell you immediately if your blood sugar is in the normal range.

Should you be concerned? Well, here are the most common symptoms of diabetes. Bear in mind that there are two types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes (also sometimes called Diabetes 2 or sugar diabetes). The symptoms for both are similar, but specific to the type. If you are experiencing any of these, it’s worth getting checked out:

Type 1 diabetes symptoms:

* Excessive thirst, even after drinking something
* Constant hunger
* Needing to pee a lot more than usual, particularly in the night
* Rapid weight loss
* Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
* Mood swings and irritability
* Blurry vision

Type 2 diabetes symptoms:

* Excessive thirst (or needing to drink more than usual)
* Dry mouth
* Needing to pee more than usual, particularly in the night
* Increased hunger
* Leg pain
* Blurry vision
* Itchy skin
* Yeast infections
* Cuts or sores that are slow to heal, particularly on the feet

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are often very sudden and dramatic, making the person so ill that it is quickly diagnosed as Type 1 diabetes. This is because people with Type 1 need to inject insulin as their pancreas no longer produces any insulin.

With Type 2 diabetes (or sugar diabetes, as it is often called in South Africa), the symptoms are often not as obvious – which makes them just as dangerous, as the longer diabetes goes undetected, the worse the long-term complications can be. If a person has Type 2 diabetes, it means that their pancreas still produces some insulin, but the body has insulin resistance and is not absorbing it as well as it should. This is how the condition can slowly get worse.

If you are experiencing any of these diabetes symptoms, go and get your blood sugar checked! It is totally possible to live a happy, healthy life with diabetes – but only if you know where you stand. Although at first it might seem quite overwhelming, having a community to share information with makes all the difference. Living well with diabetes is easy when you’re not doing it alone.

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13 Comments

  1. As you mentioned, sometimes 2 diabetes symptoms are not that obvious. That’s why it’s important for people who have high risk factors such as being overweight, over 40 years of age, physically inactive, having a family history, etc. to be tested for diabetes.

    • Gee whiz, and I thuoght this would be hard to find out.

  2. Andrea Andrea

    Hi there

    I have i am 19, 20 in Aug…i have all the type 2 diabetes symptoms. I’ve been experiencing these symptoms for about 6 months i think, it could be longer, i have only been noticing these symptoms because it feels like its getting worse and thats why I have been reading about diabetes. Is it normal for a person my age to get type 2 diabetes?

    I also experience at random times of the day, especially when i stand for about 3 to 5 minutes, i will loose my vision and hearing and i will turn a pale colour, after about 2 minutes it comes right but i sometimes experience it again straight after! Everytime this happens i am standing and then to get it stable i have to be lying down or sitting! Can this ‘low blood pressure’ feeling be a cause of diabetes?

    • Hi Andrea,
      I’m going to post your question as a blog post on our community blog tomorrow so that the rest of the community can respond…
      Have you had your blood sugar tested? It only takes 5 minutes and is quick and painless – you can do it at any clinic or pharmacy.
      You’re not alone, don’t worry!

  3. ash ash

    hi im 37 and in the miltary field i was recently informed the by sugar level was 16.9
    it was a shock to me i have most of the symptoms what can i do to drop it down.
    thanks

    • Hi Ash,
      Sorry to hear that – how are you feeling?
      It’s probably best to go and see a doctor (and a dietician) who can explain everything in detail. But in general, you want to stick to a low GI diet without any refined carbs / sugars (i.e. junk food, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes etc – those are all going to spike your blood sugar). Drink a lot of water, do a little exercise every day and follow a healthy eating plan. But a dietician will be able to give you much more detail!
      Also join our Facebook page – Diabetic South Africans (www.facebook.com/diabeticsouthafricans) to meet other diabetics and ask for advice. You can do it! Keep in touch…

  4. Hi, I seem to have all the diabetes symptoms but my readings vary between 6.1 – 6.7.

    3 Times per week I do gym for +_ 2 Hrs with resting between exercises and I am 67 Years old.

    Regards.

    Coenie
    Benoni.

    • Hi Coenie,
      If you’re at all concerned about diabetes, pop into your local clinic or go to see your doctor – the blood sugar test only takes 5 mins and they can tell you if you’re at risk. Your numbers don’t sound worrying, but best to have a professional opinion.
      Let us know what happens?
      Bridget

  5. How about information with regard to animals as many Dogs and Cats become Diabetics.
    Last month, January, 2013, a member of the family found that one of their dogs started
    walking into trees, fences and falling into the swimming pool so took this dog to the Vet
    who gave them the bad news that it was going blind through Diabetes. Blood test readings
    were between 17,7 and 22.7. So the Vet prescribed as a start 24 units long reacting Insulin
    twice a day. After 14 days on a special diet blood test taken showed 4/5 times per day,
    from the ear lobe readings dropped to between 6/10 units and twice below 1.6 units at
    which times the dog then went into a Hypo and thus it became possible to now drop the Insulin down to 10 units twice a day. Diet is strict with only one limited meal per day and no
    smacks or tit-bits at all..

    No one has any idea just how many animals have Diabetes and recently a local G.P advised that of all the Patients he see’s at least 45 to 50 of these Patients have Dogs or Cats that are Diabetics and a few that have a number of Dogs and Cats. May be you could find a Vet that would be interested to do an article for the Mag that would be of interest to everyone.

    For interest being a Diabetic myself after 65 years I had no idea just how many Animals there are that are Diabetics. Also that Blood test readings cannot be taken from the paws but the
    drop of blood for the test can only be drawn from one of two ear lobes which is not so easy as it is for us who can draw blood from one of ten fingers. The blood tester is the same as any Diabetic uses and the Syringe for the Insulin is the same as any Diabetic uses but into the rear (behind) only.

    Peter Kinnaird. (22.02.2013)

  6. Sonje Sonje

    hi. my aunt has been visiting us for just over a month. Yesterday her sugar leveks were at 19.9 and blood pressure was just as high. she slept whole day and today she wants to continue sleeping. one minute she looks better, the next minute her eyes start rolling around like someone falling asleep. does she at this point need to be admitted to hospital? She expressed that i must not take her to hospital. Im new to diabetes and afraid. please help.

    • Hi Sonje,
      So sorry to hear your aunt has been feeling so unwell… I’m afraid she needs to at least see a doctor, even if she won’t go to the hospital. Those numbers are very high, and combined with high blood pressure they can be dangerous. Take her to a doctor, clinic or hospital, but don’t let her not get help – we diabetics can be very stubborn!
      Please let us know how she feels in the next few days?

  7. ounooi fourie ounooi fourie

    I test my sugar this morning about 5 o clock after I woke up and not feeling so good.
    It was 3.4 much I go to dr or what should I do

  8. Hello,
    Please see if you can advise me about my condition.
    At 5 am this morning my reading was 8.8. After an hour of jogging the reading dropped very slightly to 8.7.
    Then after having a good egg breakfast the reading showed as 11.2.
    Should i be worried ?
    I am a male of 61 years.
    My Dad who is 97 and diabetic is on metformin ,one a day. Using his script i also take one a day.
    Many thanks.

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