What Are the Three Most Common Symptoms of Undiagnosed Diabetes?

Reviewed on 10/1/2020

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes Test
The three most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include increased thirst, increased urination, and increased hunger.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that happens when blood sugar (glucose) is too high (hyperglycemia). Glucose is the body’s main source of energy, and the pancreas produces the hormone insulin that converts glucose from the food you eat into energy the body uses. When the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t produce any at all, or the body becomes insulin resistant, glucose doesn’t reach the cells to be used for energy. This results in diabetes

Types of diabetes include:

  • Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes) is an autoimmune condition in which the body does not produce insulin 
  • Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, is a condition in which the body does not produce adequate insulin or does not use it efficiently
  • Gestational diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born

What Are Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often escalate quickly, within in a matter of weeks, while symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually develop slowly over several years. People who have type 2 diabetes may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. 

The three most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes include: 

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
    • Needing to urinate more throughout the day
    • Urinating more often than usual at night
  • Increased hunger (polyphagia)

Because diabetes makes it more difficult for the body to convert the glucose from foods into energy, people with high blood sugar levels are often more hungry

Other symptoms of diabetes include:

What Causes Diabetes?

The causes of diabetes differ depending on the type. 

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The cause of type 1 diabetes is believed to a combination of genes and environmental factors that might trigger the disease. 

Type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors, including: 

  • Genetics/family history
  • Lifestyle factors such as being overweight/obese and physical inactivity

Gestational diabetes is believed to be caused by hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy along with genetic and lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese. 

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed with the following tests: 

  • A1C test 
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test 
  • Random plasma glucose (RPG) test 
  • Glucose challenge test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)


Diabetes: What Raises and Lowers Your Blood Sugar Level? See Slideshow

What Is the Treatment for Diabetes?

Diabetes is treated with lifestyle modifications and medications when needed. 

Lifestyle changes to manage diabetes include:

Manage A1C (average blood glucose level over the past 3 months)

Check blood glucose levels daily

Manage blood pressure 

Keep cholesterol levels in check

Don’t smoke

Follow a diabetes meal plan as recommended by your doctor or nutritionist

Exercise regularly 

Take prescribed diabetes medications 

Medications used to treat diabetes include: 

If lifestyle changes and medications are insufficient, other treatments for diabetes may include: 

  • Weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery) for certain patients who are obese
  • Artificial pancreas 
  • Pancreatic islet transplantation (treatment is experimental and for poorly controlled type 1 diabetes)

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Reviewed on 10/1/2020