How Do You Know if You Have Diabetes?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I've recently noticed I have to use the restroom a lot, and I'm losing weight. I have diabetes in my family, and my uncle said I should get this checked out by a doctor. How do you know if you have diabetes?

Doctor’s Response

The early symptoms of untreated diabetes are related to elevated blood sugar levels, and loss of glucose in the urine. High amounts of glucose in the urine can cause increased urine output (frequent urination) and lead to dehydration. The dehydration also causes increased thirst and water consumption.

A relative or absolute insulin deficiency eventually leads to weight loss. The weight loss of diabetes occurs despite an increase in appetite.

Some untreated diabetes patients also complain of fatigue. Nausea and vomiting can also occur in patients with untreated diabetes.

Frequent infections (such as infections of the bladder, skin, and vaginal areas) are more likely to occur in people with untreated or poorly-controlled diabetes.

Fluctuations in blood glucose levels can lead to blurred vision. Extremely elevated glucose levels can lead to lethargy and coma.

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REFERENCES:

American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Basics.
<http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics>

CDC.gov. Diabetes Public Health Resource.
<http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes>

CDC.gov. "2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report. 2012.
<http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html>

Khardori, R., MD. "Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus." Medscape. Oct 08, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/117853-overview>

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Reviewed on 5/9/2018