Let’s compare the early symptoms of diabetes, how they differ between type 1 versus type 2, in males versus females, and in children versus adults.

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your body isn’t able to regulate your blood sugar levels. A high blood sugar level can lead to diabetes symptoms such as:

These symptoms are shared between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, the types develop at very different speeds. This causes symptoms to present very differently.

Diabetes symptoms are the results of high blood sugar levels in the body.

These symptoms develop suddenly in type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes often develops slowly over many years.

Common early symptoms include:

Type 1 diabetes symptoms come on very quickly, often over a few weeks, as the body’s pancreas stops producing insulin.

It’s more common to develop type 1 diabetes in childhood or adolescence, but it does sometimes develop in adulthood.

Since the symptoms of type 1 diabetes come on so quickly, they’re generally severe and noticeable. For example, you might lose a dramatic amount of weight in just a few weeks. You might also have stomach pains and vomiting.

Additionally, because type 1 diabetes develops rapidly, your blood sugar might become very high before you can get a diagnosis and start treatment. This can sometimes lead to a medical emergency called ketoacidosis that requires immediate care.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop more slowly than type 1 diabetes due to insulin resistance and the pancreas slowly losing the ability to produce enough insulin.

You could have type 2 diabetes for years without any symptoms. When symptoms do start, they’ll often be mild. It’s easy to dismiss them or mistake them for other conditions.

Over time, people with type 2 diabetes develop higher and higher levels of glucose in the blood, which can cause:

Sex isn’t a factor in most diabetes symptoms. However, a few additional symptoms only occur in people with a vagina. This group has a higher risk of both yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Most of the symptoms of diabetes are the same in infants, children, and adults. However, infants and very young children won’t be able to communicate their symptoms.

Instead, parents or caregivers will notice symptoms. You might notice:

When infants and children develop diabetes, it’s most likely type 1, but children can develop type 2 as well.

Just like in adults, the early symptoms are the same no matter the type: Type 1 symptoms will come on much faster. Type 2 symptoms will develop more slowly.

Diabetes can affect multiple body areas. This includes the following:

  • Eyes: Diabetes often causes blurry vision. Diabetes that isn’t managed well can lead to vision loss.
  • Skin: Diabetes can make it much harder for your body to heal cuts, scrapes, and other wounds. This can put you at a higher risk of infection.
  • Bladder: Diabetes can cause frequent urination and increase your risk of UTIs.
  • Feet: Diabetes can reduce blood flow to your feet, which makes it difficult for you to feel cuts and scrapes on your feet. It also reduces your body’s ability to heal those wounds.
  • Arms and legs: Diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy, pain, and numbness in your arms and legs.
Type 1 diabetes symptomsType 2 diabetes symptoms
develop quicklydevelop more slowly
severetypically more mild at first
can lead to a medical emergency called ketoacidosisless likely to have a medical emergency with ketoacidosis
more common in children and adolescentsmore common in adults

The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes start the same.

However, type 2 diabetes symptoms come on slowly over several years. They’re often milder at first.

Type 1 symptoms develop rapidly over just a few weeks. They’re generally more severe.

Both types of diabetes can lead to additional symptoms over time that can affect your eyes, limbs, feet, and skin.

Although they might not be able to express this, children and infants have the same symptoms as adults. Parents and caregivers can keep a lookout for any concerning symptoms.