Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Knowing the symptoms of type 1 diabetes is extremely important. The disease is often misdiagnosed or overlooked at onset, because the initial symptoms of type 1 diabetes may be nonspecific or confused with symptoms of other diseases.

The typical symptoms, which may occur individually, are:

  • Frequent urination, bedwetting in children

  • Feeling constantly thirsty

  • Feeling constantly hungry

  • Lack of energy, feeling very weak, sleepy, fatigue

  • Nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen

  • Sudden, unexpected weight loss

  • Blurred vision

For most people, the onset of type 1 diabetes occurs suddenly, often resulting in a trip to the emergency room with life-threatening complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

However, the start of the disease occurs at a much earlier time when the immune system is activated and the beta cells begin to be attacked. It is not fully understood why this happens, but genetic susceptibility and an environmental trigger, such as a viral infection, can initiate the immune activation, and people with a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes have 15x greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

The attack of the beta cells leads to the development of a single autoantibody, and over time, more may develop. Almost all individuals who develop two or more diabetes-related autoantibodies (stage 1 and 2) will eventually be diagnosed with T1D (stage 3).

Symptoms will most often not be present until stage 3 is reached [1].