Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus

The onset of symptoms in type 1 diabetes is usually sudden. Symptoms due to type 2 diabetes often develop gradually over years. Symptoms include:

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Breath has “chemical” smell similar to a nail polish
  • Excessive thirst and fluid intake
  • Unexplained tiredness or drowsiness
  • Increased hunger
  • Itchy and dry skin
  • Weight loss that is not deliberate
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Recurring infections, such as urinary tract and vaginal yeast infections
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds

Complicating symptoms requiring immediate care:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a potentially life threatening complication caused by insufficient insulin. It is most common in people with type 1 diabetes, but can also occur in those with type 2 diabetes. Symptoms: dry mouth, flushed skin, fruity-smelling breath, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Hyperosmolar nonketotic states. This is another potentially fatal complication, usually associated with extremely high blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes patients. Symptoms: Extreme thirst, lethargy, weakness and confusion. In about one third of people with type 2 diabetes, these symptoms are the first sign of their disease.
  • People experiencing symptoms indicating either of these conditions should contact their doctors at once. If unconsciousness occurs, an ambulance should be called immediately.


The Complete Home Wellness Handbook

John Edward Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 10 Nov 2011

Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013