Diabetes: 7 Early Signs And Symptoms You Must Know

Approximately one in four adults in the United States has diabetes. About 7.2 million Americans do not know they had the disease condition.

Apart from the well-known signs and symptoms of diabetes such as constant thirst and frequent urination the two kinds of diabetes (type 1 and type 2) have a portion of similar obvious warning signs.

Only about eleven percent of adults who are pre-diabetic knew they had it. Four percent of adults between eighteen to twenty-four years are diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes and its complications, deaths, and societal costs have a huge and rapidly growing impact on the economy as well as on individuals.

Hence, there is a need to know these early signs and symptoms of diabetes before it results in diabetic complications or death.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone irrespective of age, race, and gender. Diabetes is a disease condition in which your body either can’t produce insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. This hormone is required in your body to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

1. Inflamed Gum

symptoms of diabetes inflamed gum (1)Gum disease also called Periodontitis may indicate an early sign of type 2 Diabetes. In a new research study, it was found that people with gum disease, especially in those with severe cases, a high rate of diabetes, and pre-diabetes were seen as those without Peridontitis. This study also shows that the frequency of oral manifestations in diabetic patients was significantly higher, hence showing a relationship between gingival and periodontal diseases with diabetes mellitus. (1, 2 )

is my diabetes getting worse

2. Skin discoloration

symptoms of diabetes skin problems Dark discoloration on the back of your back neck also known as Acanthosis nigrican may be a sign of diabetes.

This may be present long before you actually get diabetes. Acanthosis nigrican is usually a sign of insulin resistance or a loss of the hormone your body uses to regulate glucose. This can eventually result in full-blown diabetes. (3, 4 ) Although, Acanthosis nigricans in rare cases can also be caused by;

  • Ovarian cyst
  • Hormonal or thyroid disorder
  • Cancer
  • Certain drugs and supplements such as corticosteroids and birth pills.

Other skin conditions that may be symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions to foods, bug bites, and medicines can cause rashes, depressions, or bumps on the skin.
  • Diabetic blisters: Sometimes people with diabetes develop blisters that resemble burn blisters, this is also known as bullosis diabeticorum. Diabetic blisters can occur on the fingers, hands, toes, feet, legs, or forearms and are usually are painless and heal on their own. These symptoms of diabetes often occur in people who have diabetic neuropathy.
  • Diabetic dermopathy: Diabetes dermopathy is a skin condition that occurs due to changes in the small blood vessels of the body that supply the skin with blood. It presents as scaly patches that are light brown or red, often on the front of the legs, and does not hurt, blister, or itch.

3. Strange sensations in your feet

diabetes symptoms leg sensation (1) Nerve damage related to diabetes occurs in about ten to twenty percent of people diagnosed with diabetes.

Above half of the 15 million patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in the United States have some form of diabetic neuropathy.

A person with diabetes may develop acute or subacute painful polyneuropathy, proximal motor neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, compression neuropathy, focal neuropathy, and chronic polyneuropathy. 

Diabetes leg pain is a severe warning sign of circulation complications and occurs in the lower limb. Symptoms of diabetes associated with lower limb nerve damage or neuropathy include;

  1. Tingling:
    If you are diabetic you may start to feel sensations in your legs. This symptom is the first sign of nerve damage which can lead to many other lower limb complications. Ignoring this symptom can eventually lead to amputation of the leg.
  2. Numbness:
    Numbness can occur when there are nerve damage and artery blockage, these are difficult to reverse. Numbness is very dangerous because if you have diabetes and have this symptom you may get bruises or injuries without feeling or noticing it. These cuts can progress to sores which lead to ulcers.  you should never ignore this sign of diabetes because when the numbness begins in the lower limbs it indicates you are losing one of your best defense mechanisms.
  3. Blue and Purple discoloration in the leg:
    Discoloration of the leg(s) is a sign of a lack of oxygen flowing through the arteries. Diabetic circulatory problems often occur from plaque-blocked arteries. If you notice any skin discoloration this is a major sign of diabetes indicating the leg is on the road to major problems.

These symptoms of diabetes may be barely noticeable in the early stage of the disease. If you are experiencing a strange feeling or tingling sensation in your feet, you should discuss it with your healthcare provider. (5)

4. Hearing or vision loss

symptoms of diabetes hearing loss Do you know that elevated blood sugar levels can damage your retina?

High blood sugar can also cause a fluctuation of the fluid level around your eyeball leaving you with blurred or impaired vision.

Changes in fluid levels in your body could make your eye lenses swell up.

These changes can affect the shape and focus of your vision.  If diabetes is unmanaged for a long time, it could lead to permanent damage.

Just like your eyes; high blood sugar can also affect nerve cells present in your ear and cause impaired hearing. (6, 7 )

5.  Long naps

diabetes symptoms long nap (1) Research has been carried out to investigate the association between daytime napping and the risk of diabetes.

These studies showed that long daytime napping over one hour per day was associated with an increased risk of both prevalent and incident Diabetes mellitus (DM). (8, 9)

6.  Appetite and exhaustion

symptoms of diabetes hunger and craving

Your body changes over the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy.

However, the cells in your body need insulin to take in glucose.

When your body doesn’t make enough or any insulin, or if your cells do not accept the insulin your body makes, this can result in no glucose reaching the cells and making you have no energy. You may get hungrier and more drained than expected.

7. Excessive thirst and urination

symptomsof diabetes excessive thirst The normal individual ordinarily needs to urinate somewhere in the range of four and seven times in 24 hours.

However, individuals with diabetes may go much more. Ordinarily, your body reabsorbs glucose as it goes through your kidneys.

In any case, when diabetes pushes your glucose up, your kidneys will be unable to act to bring everything back in.

This makes your body make more urine, and that takes fluids as result you’ll need to urinate more regularly.

The quantity of urine may also increase as well. Since you’re urinating a lot, you will also become thirsty more often. The more fluid you take, the more frequent your urine.


Diabetes Complication

Warning Signs of Diabetes Complications Indications of type 2 diabetes complications may include:
  1. Diminished vision
  2. Slow-healing of wounds or cuts
  3. Irritated skin (typically around the vaginal or crotch region)
  4. weight gain
  5. pain, numbness, and tingling sensation of the hands and feet
  6. Erectile dysfunction or impotence
  7. Yeast infections
  8. Smooth, dark-colored skin changes of the neck, armpit, and crotch, called Acanthosis nigricans

Diabetic Coma

A diabetic coma is commonly known as a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome. Diabetic coma can occur in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, although it is more seen in type 2 diabetes and can even lead to death in both types of diabetes.

Diabetic coma happens when your glucose level becomes too high and your body is seriously dehydrated. Below are some symptoms to look out for:

  1. Glucose level more than 600 mg/dl
  2. High fever above 101 F
  3. Dry mouth and thirst
  4. Loss of Vision
  5. Not sweaty Warm, and dry skin
  6. Sleepiness or tiredness
  7. Body weakness


The warning signs and symptoms of diabetes can be so mild that you don’t notice them. This is very true of type 2 diabetes, most people don’t find out they have this condition until they get problems from long-term damage caused by diabetes complications.

It is important to get tested if you are older than 45years or at high risk for diabetes. This can help you detect the diabetes condition early, avoid nerve damage, heart conditions, and organ damage resulting from complications.

When in doubt, or experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms you should call your primary care physician for prompt evaluation.

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