5 unusual symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that can affect the whole body and cause various symptoms. Many common and unusual symptoms are due to high and uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Early recognition of symptoms can be key to successful treatment and management of the disease. Diabetes describes a group of health conditions that affect the way the body converts sugar into energy. The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Without proper care and management, diabetes can lead to several complications. It is therefore important for people to be aware of common and unusual symptoms that may indicate diabetes.

This article discusses some unusual signs of diabetes, as well as more common warning signs and when to contact a doctor.

5 unusual symptoms

Some potential unusual symptoms of diabetes may include:

1. Skin changes

Diabetes can potentially impact many parts of the body, including the skin. When blood sugar levels get too high, it can often show up on the skin. For example, diabetes can cause dark patches to appear on the skin, especially in skin folds, such as the back of the neck, armpits, and groin. This condition is known as acanthosis nigricans. Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, there is strong evidence that it is related to insulin resistance and occurs when a person has too much insulin in their blood. High blood sugar can also cause other skin conditions, such as diabetic dermopathy and eruptive xanthomatosis. In addition, high blood sugar can also lead to dry and itchy skin.

2. Poor wound healing

High blood sugar can cause wounds to heal slowly, poorly, or not at all. High blood sugar can impair the function of white blood cells, which play an important role in the immune system. If they cannot function properly, the body is less able to heal wounds. High blood sugar can also affect blood circulation and lead to nerve damage. Poor blood circulation can slow healing because blood moves more slowly, which can make it difficult for the body to deliver nutrients to wounds. Due to nerve damage, a person may not notice the sore and be unable to treat it properly.

3. Vision changes

High blood sugar can also damage the eyes and impact a person’s vision. High blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels in the eye and cause them to weaken and swell. These delicate blood vessels can then leak blood and other fluids, which can lead to swelling that can distort vision. Over time, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to serious eye problems, which can impair vision and lead to loss of sight.

4. Fruity breath

Many people associate breath odor with a recent meal or poor dental hygiene. However, it can also be a potential sign of diabetes, more often type 1. A fruity odor on the breath is usually a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis. This term refers to the body’s inability to obtain energy from glucose; it then enters a state of ketosis and begins to burn fat for nourishment. When the body is unable to produce or use insulin effectively, blood sugar levels rise. Indeed, insulin allows the glucose present in the blood to penetrate into the cells so that they can use it as energy. Without insulin, the body instead uses fat for energy, releasing acidic byproducts called ketones. Acetone is a type of ketone, which is the fruity-smelling substance commonly found in some nail polish removers. If a person has fruity breath, it could suggest that they have high levels of ketones in their blood due to their diabetes. When the body produces too many ketones too quickly, they can build up to dangerous levels in the body and cause serious complications.

5. Recurrent infections

Another potential sign of diabetes is an increased risk of infections. This is because high blood sugar levels can weaken a person’s immune system and allow infections to develop more quickly. For example, someone with diabetes may be more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections and yeast infections.

Common warning signs

Diabetes can manifest with a whole range of potential symptoms – what one person experiences may differ from another. However, it is proven that the most common symptoms of diabetes are:

increased thirst
frequent urination
unexplained weight loss

Also, others may mention the three polys of diabetes as common warning signs. This term refers to:

Polyuria: Urinate frequently to help the body eliminate excess glucose that the kidneys filter into the blood.
Polydipsia: increased thirst to compensate for fluid loss from urination.
Polyphagia: increased appetite due to loss of glucose and fluids due to excessive urination.

In addition to the above, other signs of diabetes may include:

blurred vision
tingling in the hands or feet
dry skin
wounds that heal slowly
more frequent infections than usual

When to contact a doctor

Contacting a medical professional is highly recommended if you experience symptoms such as frequent urination, increased thirst, and fatigue. A doctor can perform tests to measure a person’s blood sugar, such as the A1C test, which can help diagnose diabetes.

It is also important to consider the risk factors for diabetes, which can make a person more susceptible to developing this disease. Possible risk factors for different types of diabetes may include Trusted Source:

Type 1: Having a close relative with type 1 diabetes.
Type 2: Having prediabetes, obesity, or a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Gestative: having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, having already given birth to a baby weighing more than 3 kg, or having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
After being diagnosed with diabetes, a doctor will recommend regular checkups every 3 to 6 months. Trusted source to help monitor a person’s health and ensure they are following their treatment plan.


Diabetes can affect the whole body and cause various symptoms, which can make it difficult to recognize the signs of the disease. It is important to be alert to the more common symptoms, such as increased thirst and frequent urination, but also to the more unusual symptoms, such as fruity breath and blurred vision. If you have any unusual symptoms that could indicate diabetes, it is advisable to make an appointment with a doctor. A healthcare professional can assess symptoms and perform tests to confirm or rule out the condition. Once diagnosed, the doctor can recommend the most appropriate treatment.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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