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Type 1 diabetes symptoms

Know the symptoms of type 1 diabetes – we call these the 4Ts. If you spot any of these signs, see a doctor for a test immediately.

What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

  • Toilet – going for a wee more often, especially at night.  
  • Thirsty – being constantly thirsty and not being able to quench it. 
  • Tired – being incredibly tired and having no energy. 
  • Thinner – losing weight without trying to, or looking thinner than usual. 

The 4Ts are the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes but there are other signs to look out for too. They could include genital itching or thrush, cuts and wounds that take longer to heal, and blurry eyesight. These can all be signs of type 2 diabetes too. Watch our symptoms of diabetes video to find out more.

No individual is the same. You may also experience other symptoms and the symptoms you may have might not exactly match those of another person.

If type 1 diabetes is left undiagnosed, it can make you really ill, really quickly. It can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – which you can die from.  

symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone, at any age. We want everyone to know the 4Ts – get involved in our campaign today by downloading our 4Ts posters and sharing the message on social media. 

Type 1 diabetes symptoms in adults 

Although the majority of people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed as children or as young adults, the symptoms are similar at any age. But adults with type 1 diabetes may not recognise diabetes symptoms as quickly as we might spot them in children, which could mean a delay in getting diagnosed and the right treatment. 

In older adults for example, one symptom of type 1 diabetes may be needing to go for a wee what feels like every hour and getting up in the night to go when you didn’t before. Carers may also notice helping people to the toilet or needing to change pads more often. In children, this could mean wetting the bed more or having heavier nappies. 

It’s important to know that type 1 diabetes can affect anyone, at any age, so remember the 4Ts and know what to do if you spot them. 

Type 1 diabetes symptoms in young people or children

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are similar at any age, but you may notice certain things in your child that aren’t normal for them.  

Spotting symptoms in your child: 

  • Toilet – your baby might have heavier nappies, or a child who is usually dry at night might start wetting the bed. 
  • Thirsty – your child may ask for a drink more often, finish drinks very quickly or you may notice they generally drink more.  
  • Tired – your child’s teacher may let you know they’re having trouble staying awake in school, or your baby might start napping more or for longer.  
  • Thinner – your child may feel or look thinner when you’re getting them dressed or their clothes may feel looser.  

Read more information about symptoms of diabetes in children.

When should you see a doctor?

If you or a family member is showing any of these symptoms, contact your GP surgery straight away, call 111 for advice or go to A&E if your symptoms are getting worse.  

The doctor or nurse will do some blood or urine tests. If you notice symptoms in your child, ask the doctor or nurse for a quick and simple finger prick blood test – it only takes a few seconds. 

Find out more about getting tested for diabetes

When does type 1 diabetes usually start? 

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but more people are diagnosed as children or young adults. 

Can you suddenly get type 1 diabetes? 

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to come on quickly – over just a few days or weeks. This is especially true in children. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the signs.  

What does untreated type 1 diabetes feel like?

It's important to know that type 1 diabetes and the symptoms you have won’t exactly match those of another person. Here, George talks about the signs he noticed and how it made him feel.

“During my first year at medical school, that I started to lose weight. In fact, I lost a lot of weight, dropping from about 100 kilos to 70… it got to the point where I couldn’t go an hour without needing the toilet and I was drinking around six or seven litres of water a day - the thirst really was unbelievable.” 

Read George’s story about his symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

Next Review Date
Content last reviewed
14 October 2022
Next review due
14 October 2025
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