Signs and Diagnosis

Diabetes is often called a "silent" disease because it can cause serious complications even before you have symptoms. Symptoms can also be so mild that you don’t notice them. An estimated 8 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes and don’t know it, according to 2012 estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Common Signs

Some common symptoms of diabetes are:

Signs of type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period of time. The signs for type 2 diabetes develop more gradually.

Tests for Diabetes

The following tests are used to diagnose diabetes or prediabetes.

If any of these tests show that you might have diabetes, your doctor will need to repeat the test with a second measurement unless there are clear symptoms of diabetes. Get more details about tests for diabetes.

Who Should Get Tested?

Because type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, anyone who is 45 or older should consider getting tested. If you are 45 or older and overweight, getting tested is strongly recommended. If you are younger than 45, overweight, and have one or more risk factors, you also should talk with your doctor about being tested. See risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Why Early Detection is Important

Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to a number of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, vision problems, kidney disease and even death. Sometimes people have symptoms but do not suspect diabetes. They delay scheduling a checkup because they do not feel sick.

Many people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes complications, such as a heart attack or stroke. Finding out early if you have diabetes is important because treatment can prevent or delay the complications of the disease.