Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus
The pages of this section help answers the questions:
- what is diabetes?
- what causes diabetes?
- what are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?
The overall focus of this section is on the answers to these questions for adult onset type 2 diabetes, although
type 1 is often addressed as part of the discussion. Other categories of this website address aspects like how to
control diabetes and what are the complications I would have to avoid.
Diabetes Definition: What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which the diabetic's body does not produce or store efficiently enough
insulin. Insulin is the hormone which regulates the amount of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream and in
the cells. Diabetes is a short name for Diabetes Mellitus, and there are three basic types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes often has a childhood (juvenile) onset; it is a process in which the body fails to
produce insulin, because the pancreas cannot fully function. Type 2 diabetes (adult onset) is the most common form,
and involves resistance to the insulin or a lack of response to it, although there may also be decreased insulin
production. The third major type is gestational diabetes, a version that can arise during the biological stress of
What Causes Diabetes?
For most type 1 diabetics, there is an auto-immune attack on the beta cells of the pancreas; this
leaves the diabetic with insufficient insulin. It does not seem to be preventable and the person who develops
it did not typically have problems with weight at onset. Unlike type 2 diabetics, at least at first these patients
are responsive to insulin, but need to self administer it because the pancreas is not functionally producing
insulin. There is likely an inherited susceptibility, and an environmental trigger (specifics are still a matter of
debate) that is needed in addition to the genetic vulnerability.
For Type 2 diabetics lifestyle plays a big role. Obesity, poor diet and soft drink excesses, and lack of
exercise may all play a role. For the adult onset diabetic, there is also a genetic component (susceptibility can
be inherited). Often onset follows a long pre-diabetic stage in which milder versions of the same pattern are
noted. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas is still producing insulin, but it is either not enough, or more typically,
the body can't make use of (or recognize) the insulin, so that it can't control the sugar (glucose) in the blood.
The blood sugar builds to levels that are taxing and damaging.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
While there are a variety of warning signs that might alert a type 2 diabetic that he has a problem, one of
the most noticeable for the patient is blurry vision. Many diabetics have first been detected by their
ophthalmologist when they showed up complaining of their vision changes. In the early stages these changes could be
due to changes in the lens due to too much glucose, or to early signs of Diabetic Retinopathy, a more serious eye
Among the other signs and symptoms of diabetes, are unquenchable thirst and insatiable hunger. Both of these
symptoms are hallmarks of Type 1 diabetes, but are often noted in Type 2 as well. Frequent urination is also a
sign, and signs and symptoms of diabetes related to wounds are also noteworthy. If you have noticed wounds that do
not heal well, or recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections you might have diabetes. For advanced cases that have
gone undetected, the feet or fingers may tingle, seem to have too little sensation or feel numb.
If you have been experiencing some of these signs and symptoms of diabetes, you need to see a doctor
immediately. You need to tell them about the signs and symptoms of diabetes that you have noticed; He will want to
check your blood sugar on the day you visit, so be sure to fast that morning and do not eat anything until after
your blood work is drawn. Don't wait, early control of your diabetes is very important, and some even think that in
the early stages diabetes is reversible, so do not delay.