What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

The signs and symptoms of diabetes are similar for the three main types of diabetes.

Learn more about the types of diabetes

It is important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis if any of these symptoms are noted:

  • Frequent urination. If you find that you are racing to the bathroom more often or need to get up in the middle of the night to go.
  • Increased thirst or feeling as if you cannot quench your thirst, regardless of how much you drink.
  • Weakness or fatigue that seems to last most of the day. Because your body is not using glucose properly, your cells are starved of energy, and you are left feeling run down.
  • Weight loss without dieting. If your weight drops without a reasonable explanation, see your doctor.
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. This condition, known as neuropathy, occurs over time as high glucose levels begin to damage the nervous system.
  • Delayed healing of bruises or cuts or frequent infections. These should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
  • Changes in vision, especially blurred vision, can be an indication of diabetes.
  • Dry and itchy skin.

The earlier a diagnosis is made, the easier the disease is to treat, so do not delay if these symptoms are present. The signs and symptoms of diabetes arise because the body is not able to properly deliver glucose to the cells of the body, keeping glucose levels elevated in your blood. Your doctor will be able to confirm if your blood glucose levels are too high and if you are at risk of or have diabetes.

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What conditions are related to diabetes?

Diabetes affect so many areas of the body that its impact is widespread. In addition to our focus on diabetes, team members within the Kovler Diabetes Center assist people who have a variety of chronic conditions connect with experts across the UChicago Medicine network to receive the care they need.

People who have diabetes and celiac disease – which causes an intolerance to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) – face additional challenges with their diet because, by avoiding all gluten-containing foods, they also lose a predominant source of low-sugar carbohydrates.

In turn, the gluten-free diet affects blood sugar levels. Dietitians in the Kovler Diabetes Center work closely with patients who have both diabetes and celiac disease to help them adapt their eating patterns to accommodate their diabetes needs as well as their celiac needs. Our team also coordinates with Dr. Ritu Verma, Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and a world-recognized expert on diagnosing and treating celiac disease.

Learn more:

Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes is a unique form of diabetes that can affect people who have cystic fibrosis. Specialists within the Kovler Diabetes Center have expertise in addressing this specific type of diabetes and can ensure you receive the care that you need.

Learn more at Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Having diabetes doubles your risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) – a condition that can lead to more serious problems like poor blood circulation (a major cause of amputations), blindness, stroke and kidney disease. That’s why it’s so important for people with diabetes to keep their blood pressure under control.

The Comprehensive Hypertension Center, directed by Dr. George Bakris, can help patients to address high blood pressure from the perspective of diabetes.

Both diabetes and thyroid disease are considered endocrine (hormonal) disorders. The presence of thyroid problems makes it even harder for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose levels.

University of Chicago endocrinologists understand the interaction between these two conditions, and can help individuals jointly manage their diabetes and thyroid disease.

As a leading academic medical institution, the University of Chicago Medicine offers innovative treatments and multidisciplinary expertise for patients who need complex diabetes care before, during and after their pregnancies.

The Diabetes in Pregnancy Program is designed for women with diabetes who are planning a pregnancy, and for women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Maternal fetal medicine specialists and members of the OB/GYN department partner with endocrinologists from the Kovler Diabetes Center to closely monitor a woman’s pregnancy in order to assure the best health for both mother and baby.

Why Choose Kovler Diabetes Center?

Because diabetes is a disease requiring care throughout a patient’s life span, a key attribute of care at Kovler is our “life span model” of care. In the same clinical space, our specialists are able to provide care to patients at every life stage.

Our approach has a particularly positive impact on young adult patients who otherwise may find themselves aging out of pediatric care at a complex time of life and not receiving appropriate support and care in managing their diabetes.

Being equipped to treat patients of all ages and stages with any type of diabetes means that we can provide care for multiple family members as needed, and extend our Family Health and Wellness Program to the whole family to help address the challenges of having a family member with diabetes.

We apply strong expertise in genetics and diabetes to examine each patient’s family history and identify candidates for genetic testing, as needed, to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate and effective treatment plans for their diabetes.

Kovler encompasses research, patient care, professional training and patient education. Our team of specialists and educators addresses the full range of patient needs, from the physical to the social and emotional.

The Kovler Diabetes Center’s approach to patient care begins with the understanding that diabetes has a different impact on every patient. Each diabetes patient is different. This shapes our approach to patient care at Kovler. Accurate and complete diagnosis, including genetic testing, is the foundation for our highly individualized treatment plans.

The Kovler Diabetes Center is a leader in diabetes research. Our researchers make breakthrough discoveries that help physicians and scientists around the world better understand diabetes, its causes and its genetic foundation.

Evidence is the foundation of our treatment plans. We focus on applied research to enhance patient care.

At Destination UChicago Medicine, we know how overwhelming traveling for health care can be and we take pride in helping our patients and family members on their journey. If you are coming to UChicago Medicine from within the United States, our dedicated team of professional, compassionate and respectful navigators can assist you.

Learn more about our Travel & Concierge Services

Diabetes Care at UChicago Medicine

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The information you provide will enable us to assist you as efficiently as possible. A representative will contact you within one to two business days to help you schedule an appointment. 

To speak to someone directly, please call 1-888-824-0200. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.


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Diabetes Care