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Signs & symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of diabetes will help you to identify possible diabetes earlier. There are 2 main types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2.

For type 1 diabetes, the signs and symptoms may appear suddenly without any warning. It's important not to ignore these signs as it could lead to a serious life-threatening situation.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect type 1 diabetes.

On the other hand, many people who have type 2 diabetes may display no symptoms at all.

Recognize the signs

The most common signs and symptoms of diabetes can include the following:

  • unusual thirst
  • frequent urination
  • weight change (gain or loss)
  • extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • blurred vision
  • frequent or recurring infections
  • cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • trouble getting or maintaining an erection

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your health-care provider right away. If you don’t have symptoms but are over the age of 40, you should still get checked.

Assess your risk

Take our CANRISK test to know your risk. It will take two minutes or less.

Take the test

Diagnosing diabetes

Your doctor can test for diabetes one of four ways and they may do a repeat test to confirm the result. In Canada the amount of sugar in your blood is measured in mmol/L. 

Fasting blood glucose test

For this test, you can't eat or drink anything except water for at least eight hours beforehand. A test result of 7.0 mmol/L or greater in your blood indicates diabetes.

Random blood glucose test

This test may be done at any time, regardless of when you last ate. A test result of 11.1 mmol/L or greater, plus symptoms of diabetes, indicates diabetes.

A1C test

This test may be done at any time, regardless of when you last ate. A test result of 6.5 % or greater (in adults) and in the absence of factors that affect the accuracy of the A1C indicates diabetes.

Oral glucose tolerance test

You'll be given a special sweetened drink prior to this blood test. A test result of 11.1 mmol/L or greater taken two hours after having the sweet drink indicates diabetes.

A second test must be done in all cases (except if you have acute signs and symptoms). Once diabetes has been diagnosed, ask your doctor to refer you for diabetes education. Diabetes Canada also has many resources to help you understand diabetes better and live a long and healthy life.

Diabetes Canada is here to help

Diabetes Canada is working to help find a cure for diabetes. If you or someone you know is diagnosed with diabetes, there are things you can do to manage it and live a long and healthy life until we find a cure. 

Understanding diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition with serious complications if it isn't managed properly. Learn more about diabetes and how it can be managed.

Contact us for support

For more information, support and to help you find diabetes services in your area.

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