What are the first warning signs of diabetes?

Virta Health

By Dr. Jeff Stanley

The “classic” signs of type 2 diabetes which lead people to see their doctor generally includes excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, numbness or tingling of extremities, weight gain and fatigue. However, these signs generally show up once someone has already developed diabetes. There are more subtle warning signs that can develop years earlier.

The most common early signs of type 2 diabetes can be fatigue and weight gain, but also surprisingly include symptoms of low blood sugar as well. Signs of low blood sugar generally develop when someone hasn’t eaten for a few hours, and include symptoms like nausea, light-headedness, severe hunger and irritability (sometimes jokingly called being “hangry”). This occurs due to a drop in blood sugar between meals, often caused by overproduction of insulin in people who have become insulin resistant. Interestingly, people can experience some of these symptoms, like hypoglycemia and irritability, before they even have a large elevation in their glucose or Hemoglobin A1c. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed, you should consider seeing your doctor and getting a blood test for diabetes.

Learn more about the dietary changes required to reverse diabetes without increasing medication in Reversing Diabetes 101 by Dr. Sarah Hallberg.


Bays HE, Bazata DD, Clark NG, et al. Prevalence of self-reported diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and associated risk factors in a national survey in the US population: SHIELD (Study to Help Improve Early evaluation and management of risk factors Leading to Diabetes). BMC Public Health. 2007;7:277. Published 2007 Oct 3. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-277

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