Symptoms & Signs

The classic symptoms of untreated diabetes are loss of weight, polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger). Symptoms may develop rapidly (weeks or months) in type 1 diabetes, while they usually develop much more slowly and may be subtle or absent in type 2 diabetes.

Prolonged high blood glucose can cause glucose absorption in the lens of the eye, which leads to changes in its shape, resulting in vision changes. Blurred vision is a common complaint leading to a diabetes diagnosis; type 1 should always be suspected in cases of rapid vision change, whereas with type 2 change is generally more gradual, but should still be suspected. A number of skin rashes that can occur in diabetes are collectively known as diabetic dermatomes.

High blood sugar levels can cause several symptoms, including: Blurry vision, excess thirst, fatigue, hunger, urinating often and weight loss. Because type 2 diabetes develops slowly, some people with high blood sugar have no symptoms. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop over a short period of time. People may be very sick by the time they are diagnosed.

Diabetic emergencies

People (usually with type 1 diabetes) may also present with diabetic ketoacidosis, a state of metabolic deregulation characterized by the smell of acetone, a rapid, deep breathing known as Kussmaul breathing, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, and altered states of consciousness. A rare but equally severe possibility is hyperosmolar nonketotic state, which is more common in type 2 diabetes and is mainly the result of dehydration.

Complications

After many years, diabetes can lead to other serious problems: You could have eye problems, including trouble seeing (especially at night) and light sensitivity. You could become blind. Your feet and skin can get painful sores and infections. Sometimes, your foot or leg may need to be removed. Nerves in the body can become damaged, causing pain, tingling, and a loss of feeling.

All forms of diabetes increase the risk of long-term complications. These typically develop after many years (10–20), but may be the first symptom in those who have otherwise not received a diagnosis before that time. The major long-term complications relate to damage to blood vessels. Diabetes doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease. The main "macro vascular" diseases (related to atherosclerosis of larger arteries) are ischemic heart disease (angina and myocardial infarction), stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Diabetes also damages the capillaries (causes microangiopathy). Diabetic retinopathy, which affects blood vessel formation in the retina of the eye, can lead to visual symptoms, reduced vision, and potentially blindness. Diabetic nephropathy, the impact of diabetes on the kidneys, can lead to scarring changes in the kidney tissue, loss of small or progressively larger amounts of protein in the urine, and eventually chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis. Diabetic neuropathy is the impact of diabetes on the nervous system, most commonly causing numbness, tingling and pain in the feet and also increasing the risk of skin damage due to altered sensation. Together with vascular disease in the legs, neuropathy contributes to the risk of diabetes-related foot problems (such as diabetic foot ulcers) that can be difficult to treat and occasionally require amputation.

The cause of diabetes depends on the type. Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited, and then triggered by certain infections, with some evidence pointing at Coxsackie B4 virus. A genetic element in individual susceptibility to some of these triggers has been traced to particular HLA genotypes (i.e., the genetic "self" identifiers relied upon by the immune system). However, even in those who have inherited the susceptibility, type 1 DM seems to require an environmental trigger. The onset of type 1 diabetes is unrelated to lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes is due primarily to lifestyle factors and genetics.

Early on in type 2 diabetes, you may be able to reverse the disease with lifestyle changes. Also, some cases of type 2 diabetes can be cured with weight-loss surgery. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes. Treating both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes involves medicines, diet, and exercise to control blood sugar levels and prevent symptoms and problems.

Getting better control over your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels helps reduce the risk of kidney disease, eye disease, nervous system disease, heart attack, and stroke. To prevent diabetes complications, visit your health care provider at least two to four times a year. Talk about any problems you are having.

To prevent getting type 2 diabetes, you want to make sure that you maintain a healthy diet, and exercise program, and maintain a healthy weight. People will unhealthy weight, are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This is not to say that just because you are healthy does not mean you won’t get diabetes, but this is the best way to prevent it. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.