man talking to doctor about diabetes warning sign

11 Unusual Symptoms of Diabetes

In many people, the initial presentation of diabetes is not always obvious because the symptoms may be unusual. In fact, by the time you see a healthcare provider, the condition may have been present for some time. What are the signs of diabetes? The unusual symptoms of diabetes are quite common and the only way to recognize them is to know what they are and how they present. 

Ignoring these diabetes warning signs may lead to the development of diabetic complications, which may not be reversible. Even minor elevations in blood sugar can damage your kidneys, eyes, and nerves. In the early stages of prediabetes, it is possible to prevent the condition from progressing. But if the blood sugar levels remain persistently high for long periods, the damage can be permanent. If you have risk factors for diabetes, learn the diabetes warning signs:

Going to the Bathroom More Frequently

One of the earliest signs of diabetes is frequent visits to the bathroom, especially at night. This is a clear sign that the levels of sugar are high. You may note that trips to the bathroom are increased after you drink colas and eat sweetened foods. It is possible that your family members may remark that you are getting up too frequently at night to use the bathroom. The reason for the increased urination is because the high levels of sugars act as a water pill. 

Drinking A Lot of Fluids

Because of the constant urination, you will also feel very thirsty, develop a dry mouth and lips, and will constantly drink a lot of fluids. Family and friends around you may comment that you seem to be drinking way too many fluids.

Frequent Urinary Tract Infections

Sugar is a magnet for bacteria and yeast. When the blood sugar levels remain high, you will start to develop frequent urinary tract and yeast infections. This is most common in women. The infections may be recurrent and often fail to respond to treatment until the sugar levels have been managed.

Losing Weight

In people with Type 1 diabetes, the lack of insulin will prevent the glucose from being used as an energy source; therefore, the body will use fat and protein stores for energy. Consequently, the individual may lose weight even without trying. In Type 2 diabetes, the lack of insulin does not allow the body to use up the glucose and this, in turn, causes hunger pangs. The end result is that the individual will eat voraciously and gain weight.

Blurry Vision 

When sugar levels are high in the blood, that can cause blurry vision. The high levels of glucose cause distortion of the light waves in the eye. Many people first see an optometrist thinking that they need a new pair of glasses, while in reality, they have high glucose that needs to be lowered.


When the level of glucose is high, many individuals will complain of feeling exhausted. The reason is that the glucose in the bloodstream cannot be utilized for energy and, consequently, one has no exercise endurance. The fatigue can be moderate to severe and can be disabling. Other reasons for fatigue can include going to the bathroom many times to urinate, dehydration, lack of sleep because of the constant need to urinate, and damage to the kidneys.

Dry and Itchy Skin

Due to potential dehydration from frequent urination, your skin will become dry and will feel itchy. You may constantly be scratching the skin. Relief is often provided when you drink fluids.

Paresthesia. You may develop unusual sensations in your body or legs like tingling, pain, or numbness. These sensations, known as paresthesia, are signs of nerve damage caused by high glucose levels.

Poor Healing

You may notice that when you develop a cut on your body, it may take a longer time to heal than would normally be the case. The reason is that high levels of sugar damage your immune system and delay healing.

Skin Discoloration 

Some people with high levels of blood glucose may notice skin discoloration. Known as acanthosis nigricans, the discoloration of the skin presents with a velvety blue-purple rash that is common in the axilla and folds of the skin, like below the breast, groin, and thigh areas.


Some people may develop constipation for no reason at all. You may have had regular bowel movements all your life and, suddenly, you find that you have developed constipation. The reason is that high levels of glucose can damage the nerves in your intestine and lead to slowness in motility.

You may develop one or more of these unusual symptoms over a few months. The only way to make a diagnosis of diabetes is to see a healthcare provider and undergo a routine blood test. Individuals with a family history of diabetes and those with risk factors should be aware of these unusual symptoms and make it a point to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

The longer the blood glucose levels are left untreated, the higher the risk of developing complications. Today, the diagnosis of diabetes can be made within 15 minutes with a simple blood test known as an A1c.

What are the Signs of Diabetes?  

Due to the fact that diabetes is very prevalent in North American society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for Type 2 diabetes for individuals between ages 40 to 70. The testing should be done every 3 years. For those who have risk factors for diabetes, the screening should be started at an earlier age and the testing should be done more frequently.

Being aware of these diabetes warning signs can increase the chances of making an early diagnosis of the disease. The earlier diabetes is treated, the better the outcomes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

CanoHealth is a full-service healthcare provider that accepts both Medicare and Medicaid.  Their specialty is focusing on senior adults.  For personalized patient care, call 1.855.226.6633 today to learn more about the unusual symptoms of diabetes.


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