While type 1 diabetes develops gradually, its symptoms come on suddenly when there is no more insulin in the body left. Usually it takes several days or weeks for them to manifest.
Although major diabetes symptoms are similar for all types of this disease, there are some symptoms specific to only type 1 diabetes. The most noticeable of them are:
- Unusual frequent urination, which is typically more observable at night. When kidneys are trying to eliminate the excess sugar from the body, they have to remove more water. This means the body makes more urine. An otherwise healthy person urinates between 4 to 7 times per 24 hours, diabetics may urinate a lot more.
- Excessive thirst. When there is often urination, the body loses much water and there remains not enough fluid to stay hydrated. That is why diabetics get very thirsty when urinating a lot.
- Feeling fatigue. When there isn’t enough insulin production, the glucose doesn’t enter the body cells to be used for energy. This makes a person more tired than usual.
- Increased hunger. A person may feel hungry because the body cannot use the calories he consumes with food. Instead, many of those calories leave the body with urine.
- Unexplained loss of weight and muscle bulk. Weight loss may happen due to dehydration or because the body starts burning muscle bulk and fat for energy as all of the sugar calories are eliminated with the urine.
These symptoms may be accompanied by:
- Itching in the genital area. Sugar in the urine promotes bacterial growth. Therefore, there may develop urinary tract infections incited by pathogens, like urethritis, cystitis and pyelonephritis, or incited by fungi, like candidiasis.
- Blurred vision. The shape of the eye lens may change due to accumulation of sugar in it, which in turn sucks more water into the eye and makes it swell. Thus the eye loses its ability to focus and vision blurs. Blurred vision may also occur due to very low blood sugar level. In this case normal vision returns once the glucose levels are returned to normal.
- Unexpected cramping. When the body starts to burn fat for energy, it produces ketones which can build up in the blood. Severe accumulation of ketones causes the blood PH to substantially decrease, resulting in ketoacidosis. This can be smelled on the breath as fruit or nail-polish remover due to its by-product acetone, and can tell on stomach, causing belly pain, nausea and vomiting.
Recognizing these symptoms is vital because the earlier the condition is spotted and diabetes treatment provided, the higher chances are to avoid complications.