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Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are caused by the buildup of glucose in the blood and the lack of glucose in body cells. Symptoms of hyperglycemia include the following:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Extreme thirst (polydipsia)
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Nausea, diarrhea , or constipation
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Coma

In some cases, the total lack of insulin leads to a condition called ketoacidosis . When you do not have enough insulin, blood sugar levels rise. Yet, that sugar cannot enter the body’s cells to generate energy. In response, the body starts breaking down stored fat for energy. The by-products of fat breakdown are called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are composed of acids that build up in the blood and cause ketoacidosis.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration following frequent urination
  • Drowsiness, poor concentration
  • Abnormally deep and fast breathing
  • Flushed face
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure

If ketoacidosis is not treated immediately with fluids and insulin, it can lead to coma and even death.

References:

American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/.

Braunwald E. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2001.

Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2005;28:537-542.

Ketoacidosis. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html. Accessed November 30, 2009.



Last reviewed September 2014 by Kim A. Carmichael, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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