Diabetes > Symptoms and Complications

Diabetes Symptoms and Complications

There are many symptoms and issues that occur as a result of diabetes, from having either a prolonged high blood sugar level or a blood sugar level that drops dangerously low. The symptoms of diabetes mellitus are generally the same for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but the way and speed in which the symptoms develop can differ.

   Symptoms of Diabetes

The three main symptoms of diabetes are:


The need to urinate

Polyuria guide


Prolonged excessive thirst

Polydipsia guide


Highly increased appetite

Polyphagia guide

Low Blood Sugar

Falling into extreme low blood sugar levels causes hypoglycemia (sometimes spelt hypoglycaemia). This can eventually cause issues around the body, such as shaking, confusion, headaches or even unconsciousness.


The state in which there is too much insulin in the blood is called hyperinsulinemia, and usually occurs during early Type 2 diabetes, before treatment has begun. It is caused by insulin resistance as the pancreas over-produces insulin to try and combat the high blood suagr levels. Unfortunately, there are links suggesting hyperinsulinemia can increase the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer.

High Blood Sugar Levels and Blood Vessel Damage

Nearly all the major symptoms and complications of diabetes stems from having a high blood sugar level, and the damage this can do to the blood vessel, or vascular, system.

This happens because a rise in sugar molecules in the blood leads to the decline in several hormones that allow blood vessels to dilate and relax. Without these, the blood vessels stay 'rigid' and eventually the blood stops being able to travel through them as easily.

The science behind this reaction is that a component of sugar glucose, O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) competes with the phosphorylation process of some proteins which creates nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator so as O-GlcNAc stops the production of it, the ability of the vessels to dilate is diminished.

In understandable terms, this means that glucose in the blood competes with the molecule that produces a relaxant. The less of this molecule there is, the less relaxant (nitric oxide) there is, and so the blood vessels cannot relax and dilate.

If blood vessels are contracted for long periods of time, it can cause blood to struggle to flow. This is far more observable in small capillaries as they are relatively tiny compared to normal veins and arteries, so just minor narrowing can have a large effect on blood flow.

Blood Vessel Damage Complications:

Emotional Issues and Diabetes

Diabetes can have a huge impact on a person's life, and eventually, dealing with it can lead to a negative state of mind known as 'Diabetes Burnout'. This is where the sufferer becomes so worn down by their necessarily constant treatment that they give up with it. Other factors that can add to this state can be things such as unrelated stress that can then trigger diabetes burnout.

Other diabetic symptoms/complications to be aware of