There are several signs and symptoms that indicate a person may have either pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. Here are the most common symptoms to be on the lookout for:

Frequent urination - Are you running to the bathroom more than usual, especially at night? Elevated glucose levels can cause more frequent urination than normal.

  • Increased thirst - Are you drinking more than usual? Would you say you drink literally all day, or that you have an unquenchable thirst? This can also be caused by high glucose levels. If you are urinating more because of these higher levels, you can become dehydrated and want to drink more.

  • Increased hunger
    - Has your appetite increased lately? Are you ravenous? This symptom is also associated with unbalanced blood glucose.

  • Weakness and fatigue
    - Do you feel tired and run down? Do you find that all you want to do is sleep? If, as a result of diabetes, insulin is not present, or your body cannot use it efficiently, then your body cannot utilize the glucose to generate the energy you need.

  • Weight loss
    - Are you losing weight without trying? If you have type 1 diabetes, which means your body cannot manufacture insulin, then the body starts breaking down fat and muscle for the energy it needs. This results in weight loss.

  • Blurred vision
    - Has your vision changed? When you read a newspaper, a sign, or a book, do the letters seem fuzzy? Fluctuating glucose levels can cause blurred vision.

High glucose levels cause other problems as well. These may also be signs of pre-diabetes or diabetes:

  • Tingling or numbness - Do you get pins and needles in your hands or feet? This is called neuropathy. High levels of glucose in your blood can damage your nervous system and affect your hands and feet.

  • Sores that do not heal
    - Do you get frequent cuts or bruises that take a long time to heal?.

  • Infections
    - Do you get gum or bladder infections, and for women, vaginal infections?

  • Dry, itchy, or scaly skin
    - Is your skin drier than normal? Do you notice scaly patches?

  • Irritability
    - Have you felt more irritable lately or experienced mood swings? Have you been nauseous?

If you notice any of these, you may have diabetes or be pre-diabetic and should see your doctor. Being overweight or being older may also predispose you to diabetes, as well as the items on the following checklist. The more items you check on the list below, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes:

  • I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
  • My family background is Alaska Native, American Indian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
  • I have had gestational diabetes, or I gave birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • My blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, or I have been told that I have high blood pressure.
  • My cholesterol levels are not normal. My HDL cholesterol-"good" cholesterol-is below 35 mg/dL, or my triglyceride level is above 250 mg/dL.
  • I am fairly inactive. I exercise fewer than three times a week.
  • I am a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • On previous testing, I had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG).
  • I have other clinical conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as acanthosis nigricans, a brown to black hyperpigmentation of the skin.
  • I have a history of cardiovascular disease.


Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13