Early Signs of Diabetes: Watch for These Symptoms

In diabetes, you have too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. This is because your body either can't produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or doesn't use it properly (type 2 diabetes).

Some people have no symptoms of early diabetes. When they do occur, type 1 diabetes tends to cause sudden symptoms, while type 2 is generally more gradual.

Most early signs are the same for both types, but some tend to be unique to the type. They include:

  • More frequent urination
  • Frequent urinary tract (UTI) or yeast infections
  • Suddenly worsening vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Slow healing
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Extreme thirst or hunger
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities

The article explores the early symptoms of diabetes and when you should get medical attention.

Potential Warning Signs of Diabetes

Theresa Chiechi / Verywell

More Frequent Urination

The kidneys help process and filter glucose, with much of it normally being reabsorbed into the body.

However, the kidneys can't keep up when your blood glucose level gets too high. That leads to glucose spilling over into the urine to be excreted from the body, which means urinating more often.

In children, this sometimes leads to nighttime bedwetting and accidents after potty training. Adults might not notice the increased frequency unless it means waking up more often to use the bathroom.

Frequent UTIs or Yeast Infections

The presence of glucose in the urinary tract and genital area may lead to infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) or yeast infections.

Researchers also suspect that poor circulation and a weak immune response may also play a role in the increased risk of infections. These problems are common in people with diabetes, especially if it's not well controlled.

These infections are more common in those with female genitalia but can occur in anyone.

Suddenly Worsening Vision 

High blood glucose levels cause the lens of the eye to swell, which changes your vision. It can cause blurred vision and an inability to make out fine details.

The good news is that your vision should return to normal once your blood glucose levels are in the desirable range.

Extreme Fatigue

While experts are unsure about the exact causes, many people with high blood glucose levels experience fatigue. Possible reasons include:

  • Changes in blood glucose levels
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Other diabetes symptoms
  • Carrying excess weight
  • Generally feeling unwell

Anytime fatigue interferes with your daily life, you should talk to your healthcare provider about it.

Slow Healing

Slow-healing wounds—including cuts, grazes, blisters, and bruises—or wounds that worsen are a more serious sign of diabetes. You should talk to your healthcare provider about it as soon as possible.

Possible causes of slow healing in diabetes include:

Slow-healing cuts and wounds can be especially troublesome if they affect the feet. If foot wounds aren't promptly treated, it can lead to more severe complications, including amputation.

Unintended Weight Loss

If you're ever losing weight without trying and don't know why, you should get checked out soon.

Unintended weight loss can be a symptom of several conditions, including diabetes. It is more common in type 1 diabetes. 

It may be caused by the lack of insulin, which prevents glucose from getting stored for energy. When glucose isn't available, the body starts using fat and muscle for energy.

Extreme Thirst or Hunger

Feeling hungrier and/or thirstier than usual, despite eating and drinking more, can be a sign of diabetes.

Hunger signals come from cells that can't remove glucose from your blood and use it properly, so they don't have enough energy to function. They then signal your body to eat more to boost energy.  

When blood glucose levels are too high, your body tries to dilute it by drawing water from tissues. This leaves your tissues dehydrated, causing a thirst response.

If your sudden increased thirst or hunger can't be explained by other factors, visit your healthcare provider to check for diabetes or another medical condition.

Tingling or Numbness in Extremities

Tingling, numbness, or pain in your hand, fingers, feet, or toes is a sign of nerve damage from diabetes. This is called diabetic neuropathy.

This symptom is common in people who've had uncontrolled diabetes for a long period of time. It can occur in people who are diagnosed, as well.

Beyond the Hands and Feet

In some cases, diabetic nerve damage can cause problems with internal organs, including your bladder and heart.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you have any of the early signs and symptoms of diabetes, it is important to get checked by your healthcare provider. They use simple blood tests to diagnose the condition.

Diagnosing Diabetes

Tests for diabetes include:

  • The hemoglobin A1C (A1C or HbA1C) test: Reveals the average of your blood glucose levels over the past three months. Also used to measure diabetes management.
  • The fasting blood glucose test: Checks your blood glucose level after not eating overnight. Also used for diabetes management. 
  • The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): You fast overnight and then drink a high-sugar beverage provided by the lab. They draw blood samples several times over two or three hours.
  • The random blood glucose test: Checks your blood sugar level at a single point in time. Results can vary widely. Only used for diagnosis when other classic symptoms are also present.

Risk Factors

If you have risk factors for diabetes, you should be especially alert to early symptoms and get checked right away if you notice some.

Family history
Child or young adult  
45 or older  
Excess weight  
Low physical activity  
Gestational diabetes  
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease  
Black, Native American,
Latino, Alasakan Native,
Pacific Islander, Asian American


Not everyone has early diabetes symptoms. If you do, they may include increased urination, frequent UTIs or yeast infections, suddenly worsening vision, extreme fatigue, slow healing, unintended weight loss, extreme thirst or hunger, and diabetic neuropathy.

You should see your healthcare provider soon if you have any of these symptoms, especially if you're at-risk for diabetes due to your family or medical history, lifestyle factors, and ethnicity.

A Word From Verywell

By taking care of your general health and being in tune with your body, you can be more aware of when something seems off. If you notice any of these signs of diabetes, it’s critical to seek testing and examination with your primary care provider and see a specialist as needed.

Diabetes is a manageable condition, but early detection and treatment under the care of a trusted medical professional are key.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CD, CDCES
Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CDCES, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.