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Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes

When your blood glucose levels become too high your body will do whatever it can to try and remove the glucose from the blood.
Content last reviewed and updated: 13.03.2024

Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes are: Thinner, Thirsty, Tired, Toilet. A family with a son who has type 1 diabetes

What are the main signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

The main signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Going to the toilet more. Your body will try to get rid of excess glucose through urination.
  • Being extremely thirsty. If you’re going to the toilet more, you’ll be very thirsty.
  • Tiredness. Type 1 diabetes stops your body making the energy it needs, so you’ll be exhausted.
  • Weight loss. Your body has to get energy from somewhere, so will break down fat stores.

You may also experience:

  • Fruity-smelling breath. If your blood glucose levels are too high, acids called ketones will build up. This will cause your breath to smell like pear drops and can also lead to stomach pain.
  • Changes in vision
  • An increased appetite

What should I do if I notice the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

The onset of type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms is rapid, happening over a matter of days and weeks rather than months. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing these symptoms you must go to your doctor immediately.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

If your blood glucose levels are too high for too long, it can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is most common at diagnosis, and some people with type 1 may only be diagnosed once they’ve gone into DKA.

DKA occurs when a severe lack of insulin means the body cannot use glucose for energy and starts to break down fat instead. Acids called ketones are the by-product of the breakdown of fat and, if left unchecked, can build up in your blood, making it acidic.

Recognising the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

The main symptoms of DKA include:

  • Heavy or laboured breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Stomach pains
  • Stupor or unconsciousness

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you must go to hospital immediately. DKA is very serious and can be fatal.

More about type 1 diabetes

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What causes type 1 diabetes?

Scientists are currently investigating the genetic and environmental factors that may trigger your immune system to attack the beta cells in your pancreas, causing type 1 diabetes.

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What is the difference between type 1 and type two diabetes?

All types of diabetes cause blood glucose levels to be higher than normal. Find out about the key differences between the major types.

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Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune conditions

Find out why people who have one autoimmune condition are at greater risk of developing other types of autoimmune disease.