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Mild, Moderate and Severe Cases of Diabetes: Signs and Symptoms

May 18, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Diabetes is a long-standing or chronic condition wherein your body fails to produce any insulin, adequate amounts of it, or the appropriate type of hormone. 10.5% of the United States population has been reported to have diabetes around 34.2 million people.

Clinically, diabetes is diagnosed by a triad of symptoms - polyphagia, polyuria, and polydipsia. The prefix ‘poly’ implies an excess of something. In this case, it translates to a lot of urine, thirst, and hunger. Laboratory tests for the condition include oral glucose tests, blood HbA1c tests, and glucose tolerance tests.

Different Kinds of Diabetes

An insufficiency binds people with diabetes to break down glucose properly, but that’s about it. The disease has no key demographic, gender preference, or geographical limitation. This is because there isn’t one type of diabetes.

Types of diabetes include:

Several correlating clinical conditions wherein hormone production and glucose uptake are also impaired. However, these conditions aren’t necessarily termed diabetes.

Difference Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

There are several differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes; these include:

  • Type 1 diabetes develops in childhood, and Type 2 develops in adulthood.
  • Type 2 diabetes is linked with obesity, whereas Type 1 diabetes is not.
  • Type 2 diabetics might have had average insulin production and use at some point.
  • Type 1 diabetics are advised diabetic medication, whereas Type 2 diabetics are advised medication and behavioral modifications.


Diabetes is characterized as an increase in glucose in the body because the hormone insulin fails to break it down for uptake properly. This results in an increased blood glucose level, termed hyperglycemia.

Signs of hyperglycemia are usually detected when blood glucose levels rise above 180-200 mg/dL or 10-11.1 mmol/L. Hyperglycemia results from a lack of physical activity, improper food choices, and a person with diabetes not taking their glucose-lowering medication in time.

Hyperglycemia is a significant finding in people with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, long-standing diabetics often cannot characterize their symptoms properly; some may even be asymptomatic.

Mild Hyperglycemia

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Slight irritability

Moderate Hyperglycemia

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine
  • Lethargy
  • Blurred Vision
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion

Severe Hyperglycemia

  • Fruity-smelling breath (ketone breath)
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry Mouth
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Coma

The HbA1C Test

HbA1c glycated hemoglobin is a form of hemoglobin that is chemically linked with sugar. Most sugars tend to bond with hemoglobin to a considerable extent. However, glucose is less likely to do so than other sugars, such as fructose or galactose.

This makes an HbA1c test a characteristic test for diagnosing diabetes. If glucose is in excess in your body, it’ll tend to conjugate with hemoglobin, and HbA1c levels will increase.

The test tells you your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months.

Are you secretly diabetic? Find out with the Hemoglobin A1C Test


  • Normal levels - 4-5.6%
  • Pre-diabetics - 5.7-6.4%
  • Diabetic - +6.5%

When to Consult Your Physician

Diabetes is one of the world’s most common and deadly chronic conditions. Manifestations of the condition go from headaches to comas and increased thirst to amputation.

Regular diabetic screening tests are vital and therefore advised by physicians. This is especially important for people either with a family history of diabetes or people who tend to be overweight.


Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr. Saad Zia on May 11th, 2023.

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