Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

How to tell if you or your child has type 1 diabetes

Written by Daphne E. Smith-Marsh PharmD, CDE
Reviewed by W. Patrick Zeller MD

Type 1 diabetes develops gradually, but the symptoms may seem to come on suddenly. If you notice that you or your child have several of the symptoms listed below, make an appointment to see the doctor.

Here’s why symptoms seem to develop suddenly: something triggers the development of type 1 diabetes (researchers think it’s a viral infection—read this article on what causes type 1 diabetes, and the body loses its ability to make insulin. However, at that point, there’s still insulin in the body so glucose levels are still normal.


Over time, a decreasing amount of insulin is made in the body, but that can take years. When there’s no more insulin in the body, blood glucose levels rise quickly, and these symptoms can rapidly develop:
There are also signs of type 1 diabetes. Signs are different from symptoms in that they can be measured objectively; symptoms are experienced and reported by the patient. Signs of type 1 diabetes include:
There is an overall lack of public awareness of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Making yourself aware of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes is a great way to be proactive about your health and the health of your family members. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it’s possible that you have (or your child has) type 1 diabetes. A doctor can make that diagnosis by checking blood glucose levels.

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