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VNA of Care New England
VNA of Care New England
by Schroeder K

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are caused by the buildup of glucose in the blood and the lack of glucose in body cells. Symptoms of hyperglycemia include the following:
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Coma
In some cases, the total lack of insulin leads to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis . When you do not have enough insulin, blood glucose levels rise. Yet, that glucose cannot enter the body’s cells to generate energy. In response, the body starts breaking down stored fat for energy. The by-products of fat breakdown are called ketone bodies. These ketone bodies are composed of acids that build up in the blood and cause diabetic ketoacidosis.
Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration following frequent urination
  • Drowsiness, poor concentration
  • Abnormally deep and fast breathing
  • Flushed face
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
If diabetic ketoacidosis is not treated immediately with fluids and insulin, it can lead to coma and even death.


Braunwald E. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2001.
Diabetes mellitus type 1. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 28, 2012. Accessed December 31, 2012.
DKA (ketoacidosis) & ketones. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html. Accessed December 31, 2012.

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