Symptoms of Diabetes – The First Signs

diabates symptoms

diabetes symptomsKnowing the symptoms of diabetes, including the very first signs are critical to catching the disease early. With almost 19 million people currently diagnosed with diabetes, you would think this is a fairly straight forward issue.

Incredibly, however, the National Institute of Health estimates that at least 7 million Americans have diabetes, but are unaware of their condition. This represents over 27 percent of all diabetes cases in the United States. There is an incredible disconnect between what is being diagnosed and what is actually occurring in this country. More importantly, the lack of diagnosis delays proper treatment and can contribute to further complications.

Okay, so why is it so hard for doctors and individuals alike to spot the first signs of diabetes, such a prolific and well known disease?

The simple answer is that the early warning signs of diabetes tend to be fairly common and very subtle. Many Americans may simply shrug off the symptoms as harmless. For example, fatigue is a symptom of diabetes. Neither your doctor nor you probably leapt to a diabetes diagnosis with that symptom!

Unfortunately, these symptoms can be anything but harmless. The symptoms can also be similar depending upon the type you may have. However, it is important to look at how each type’s symptoms manifest itself and how you can spot it early and avoid complications.

Let’s take a look at the most common types of diabetes and their corresponding symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes

diabetes symptomsThe symptoms of type 1 diabetes are a bit unique because they tend to manifest themselves rather quickly. Often the symptoms will develop in a matter of months, if not weeks.

While the symptoms may develop rapidly, unfortunately the destruction of certain cells may have been occurring for years.

Another problem is that the symptoms tend to be rather generic or non-specific to diabetes.

As the following list highlights, the associated diabetes symptoms could match any number of different conditions or even no condition at all. The most common warning signs (in no particular order) are:

  • Increased thirst and Urination
  • Increased Hunger
  • Weight Loss
  • Blurred Vision
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Tingling or Numbness in the Hands or Feet
  • Very Dry Skin
  • Slow healing Sores or Wounds
  • Increased Infections

Stomach pains, vomiting or nausea can also occur with some of the above symptoms. Recognizing the signs is especially problematic for type 1 diabetes. The failure to timely diagnose and treat with insulin can lead directly to a diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

Like any health condition, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is best that you consult immediately with your health care provider.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be very gradual, unlike the more sudden onset that can occur with type 1 diabetes. Often people dismiss the symptoms as they can be subtle and do not appear overly harmful. Unfortunately, the longer you go without treatment, the more damage and complications can occur.

The subtle nature of the warning signs is what contributes significantly to the number of undiagnosed cases in the United States.

The 9 symptoms enumerated above for type 1 diabetes are exactly the same for type 2. The key difference tends to be the quickness that the symptoms manifest themselves. Like any serious health condition, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is best that you consult immediately with your health care provider.

The best approach is to have your doctor perform a blood sugar test at your annual check up. Many people experience very few or none of the above signs of diabetes, so pre-emptive testing is the safest and best way to diagnose. This is particularly true if you if you are overweight, have a family history of the disease or have other risk factors for diabetes.

Other Considerations

Reading these articles are critical for you to learn the first signs of diabetes. The earlier you catch the warning signs, the earlier you can begin treatment. If you want, take a quick read about the more traditional causes of How Do People Get Diabetes?

If you do not yet have diabetes and want to know some of the risk factors, including your risk factors for developing Pre-Diabetes you will want to check out our resources there.

If you already have diabetes, then you may want to familiarize yourself with the diabetic coma symptoms.

A related condition is Polyphagia. Take a look at these familiar symptoms!

By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed February 2013.


NIH Publication No. 11-3892, updated December 2011(accessed February 2013)


What is Your A1C Test Telling You?

testing equipment

a1c Everyone talks about their A1c test results. Why? Well, monitoring blood glucose levels is the cornerstone of good diabetes management. While daily monitoring is both necessary and good, it does not necessarily provide an accurate measure of how successful you are in controlling your blood sugar.

The A1c blood test, sometimes called the bgb A1c or hemoglobin A1c, provides a more accurate measure of your blood sugar management over time.

How does it do that? The test measures your glucose levels over a three month period. Daily monitoring, on the other hand, only test your glucose level at that given moment in time. Let’s look at how the test works, then compare your results to our hemoglobin A1c chart to see how you are doing.

How the A1c Test Works

The test measures the amount of glycated hemoglobin in the blood. Glycated hemoglobin is a combination of hemoglobin (red blood cells) and sugar (glucose). Red blood cells live for approximately 3 months. Thus, the A1c test allows doctors to determine how much sugar has been in the body for the preceding 3 months by measuring the amount of glycated hemoglobin that is in the blood. This longer period helps doctors see the “big picture” of how you are doing.

The higher the percentage the worse your diabetes management is. The normal result for most diabetics is above 6 percent. A number below 6 percent, will generally correspond with a person who doesn’t have diabetes.

Most doctors have traditionally been comfortable if the result is below 7 percent. However, new research suggests that a result between 6 percent and 7 percent may be too high. Regardless, a result above 7 percent is a clear indication of poor diabetes management and that you are at a greater risk of developing diabetes complications.

UPDATE 2010 – A1C Test is New Diabetes Diagnosis Tool

At the beginning of 2010, the Americans Diabetes Association (ADA) decided that the A1c test is now appropriate for diagnosing diabetes. The new guidelines were issued in the Clinical Practice Recommendations for 2010. The hope is that more people will be diagnosed because the A1c does not require a fast before taking.

It is thought that many people avoid the other diagnostic tests because they require a fast. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of all diabetics are undiagnosed.

The guidelines state that people without diabetes will normally have a reading around 5 percent. People with pre-diabetes will have a reading between 5.7 and 6.4 percent. Lastly, a reading of 6.5 percent or higher will be diagnosed as having diabetes.

Hemoglobin A1c Chart

Human nature is such that we want to compare things. We want to compare our A1c results against our fellow diabetic. Alternatively, we are curious about how our A1c result compares to the results we see from our glucose meter. The following A1c chart, or hemoglobin A1c chart, provides a rough comparison between the two measures.

However, as stated above, keep in mind that each test measures two different things (short term versus long term results). Here is the chart:

A1C Level Plasma Level
12 345
11 310
10 275
9 240
8 205
7 170
6 135

Home A1C Blood Test Now Available


The Bayer A1C Now SelfCheck System is the first at home A1C test kit. Results can be found within 5 minutes with “lab accurate” readings.

This test is not inexpensive, however. The link here is for ONE test. If you purchase 10 tests at one time, you can reduce your per test cost significantly. Click here for the A1CNOW SELFCHECK 2 TEST 1EA CHEK DIAGNOSTICS (DIABETES).

There you have it. Hopefully, this will get you started understanding the A1c blood test and your A1c results and how well you are doing managing your diabetes.


ADA Clinical Practice Recommendations 2012 (Accessed January 2012)

National Institute of Health, Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, HbA1c (accessed December 2008).

By Erich Schultz, Last Reviewed April 2013.

Top Blood Glucose Meters Reviews

glucose meter reviews and ratings

best choice logoYou want to find the BEST blood glucose meter. Yet, there are literally dozens of choices. Take a look at our easy to understand glucose meter comparison charts and our glucose meter reviews of the top models.

There are literally dozens of choices. Unfortunately, choosing is even more difficult because it is almost impossible to figure out what makes one meter different from another.

None of the manufacturers are consistent with the information they provide. After all, how do you really compare glucose meters? We have created dozens of reviews and tips to try and help you with this process.

We have exhaustively reviewed owners’ manuals, company websites, customer complaints and endorsements to assemble the most complete information possible. Here you can compare blood glucose meter choices and find the best glucose meter for you.

aFIRST, take a look at our GLUCOSE METER COMPARISON page which divides meters into different categories including Compact, Conventional, Advanced and Specialty.

SECOND, don’t forget to check out our TEST STRIP PRICE COMPARISON page to get the best deals on test strips.


Confused by the different brands and models? Looking for the BEST glucose meter? Looking to compare the TOP meters? Take a look at some of the meter reviews below. We have standardized our reviews so that you can knowledgeably compare meters to make the most informed decision. Your blood sugar and your health deserve nothing less!


Who are the companies that make glucose monitors? What are their backgrounds? What kind of experience do they have? Learn about the top manufacturers and compare glucose meters.


  • choose a glucose meter
    How to Choose a Diabetes Glucose Meter: The Top 12 Factors!
    Beyond the in-depth glucose meter reviews above, I highly recommend that you take a look at our guide for choosing a meter. This guide provides a great overview of the many features to look for when choosing your next meter.Sometimes price is the least important feature. Make an informed decision before committing to your next meter.
  • meter accuracy
    Blood Glucose Meter Accuracy: This subject is one of the top questions people email me about on this site. I got so tired of responding to all the inquiries that I wrote an article about the subject to refer people to when they ask. If you ever wondered how the FDA approves meters and why you get one reading one time and 5 seconds later get a different reading, you will want to read this “instant classic” article.

  • talking glucose meters
    Talking Glucose Meters:
    No one likes to admit it, but sometimes it gets harder to read these small screens as we get older. Unfortunately, another off shoot of diabetes is that people have diminished eye sight and even blindness.Talking meters allow people with eye sight issues to still take an active role in their blood sugar management. Take a look at these 11 different choices.
  • glucose testing video
    Blood Glucose Testing: Here is a great video about the importance of monitoring your glucose levels. The video also goes into nice detail about how you can get the most out of your meter for best results.
  • free glucose meter
    How to get a Free Blood Glucose Meter?
    Besides wanting to know why their meters can deliver inaccurate results, readers are always asking how they can get a free meter. Well, we wrote a quick overview of how you can do just that.However, be aware that sometimes there is no “free lunch!” There are a lot of free meter offers out there, but they often aren’t “free”.
  • continuous glucose monitoring
    Continuous Glucose Monitoring:
    More and more people are deciding to use a continuous glucose monitor or CGM system. These are powerful tools and not all of them have the same features.
    Take a look at the available options on the market today and see if you want to step up and buy one.