#SeeTheSigns of Diabetes


Undiagnosed type 1 diabetes is life-threatening. Early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes saves lives.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas until there is little to no insulin left. Insulin is the hormone that converts glucose—like from the food we consume—into fuel for the body. Without that fuel, the body begins shutting down, leading to the signs of type 1 diabetes. 

These signs are often mistaken for a urinary tract infection, growth spurt in children/teens, type 2 diabetes, an eating disorder or other illness.

T1D is a treatable chronic autoimmune disease and those living with it can thrive, but only if it is diagnosed before severe complications from lack of insulin occur. Delayed diagnosis can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), the result of not enough insulin in the system. DKA is often mistaken for the flu, COVID-19, stomach virus or other illness.

#SeeTheSigns of Diabetes

Frequent Urination

Symptom: urge to urinate frequently

Signs: repeated trips to the bathroom, waking at night to urinate, bedwetting from children who had previously outgrown it, constant heavy diapers in babies or toddlers

Often mistaken for: excessive drinking, being well hydrated, a urinary tract infection

Excessive Thirst

Symptoms: unquenchable thirst day and night, feeling dehydrated

Signs: waking at night to drink water/fluids, complaints about thirst in youth

Often mistaken for: a response to participation in exercise/sports activities or hot weather


Symptoms: tired, unusual fatigue, low energy

Signs: irritability, mood swings

Often mistaken for: lack of sleep, a response to participation in exercise/sports activities, general lack of energy, viral illness

Unexplained Weight Loss

Symptom: unexplained and/or faster-than-typical weight loss

Signs: appearing thinner, clothes becoming baggy, changes in appetite (some people experience increased appetite, some experience limited appetite)

Often mistaken for: a growth spurt for children or teenagers, a response to limited appetite or increased activity, an eating disorder

If you recognize these signs and symptoms, immediately see a health care provider. 

#SeeTheSigns, Share the Signs

#SeeTheSigns of DiabetesEarly diagnosis of type 1 diabetes saves lives. Take action. Get involved. Share your signs to help save lives, request #SeeTheSigns posters to share in your community, get sharable graphics for social media and more!

Want to join us on social media? Share how many signs of diabetes you or your loved one experienced before diagnosis. Just post a picture or reel, using your fingers to share the number of signs you or your loved one had, and share your story around the signs. Post with the hashtags #SeeTheSigns and #T1D. Help others #SeeTheSigns of type 1 diabetes.


Request #SeeTheSigns posters to distribute in your community

Would you #SeeTheSigns?

Hear from members of the diabetes community about the signs they experienced before diagnosis: 


What causes type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas until there is little to no insulin left. Insulin is the hormone that converts glucose from the bloodstream into fuel for the body. Without that fuel, the body begins shutting down. Researchers don’t yet know what causes autoantibodies—the markers that indicate a person could develop T1D—to develop, or what later triggers the immune system to attack the pancreas. Genetics seems to play a role, as could environmental factors (like viruses) and the gut microbiome.

When does T1D develop?
T1D can strike anyone at any age; half of diagnoses happen in adulthood. People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must take manufactured insulin—typically via injections or an insulin pump—to survive.

What happens if you don’t get diagnosed in time?
As the body creates less and less insulin, it has no way to convert glucose into fuel for the body. Without insulin in the system, the body develops a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be deadly. That’s why it’s so important to see the signs and immediately visit a health care provider.

Learn more about screening  for the autoantibody markers of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes diagnosis stories

Nick Jonas looks slightly off camera, his hand rubbing the back of his neck as he smiles slightly

Looking Back: Nick Jonas Reflects on His Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

Diagnosed with T1D at the age of 13, Beyond Type 1 co-founder Nick Jonas opens up about the signs his family noticed and how he kept going after the diagnosis. “The warning signs and the symptoms were all in line with the normal symptoms for undiagnosed type 1. My blood sugar must have been above 38.8 mmol/L700 mg/dL for an extended period because I was losing a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, almost 25 pounds in two weeks. I was constantly thirsty, having to use the bathroom… [being diagnosed] was the start to a crazy new journey…”


How a picture prevented a life-threatening emergency room visit

After seeing a friend’s social media post, Kathy saw the signs and got her son diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Signs of Diabetes

Julia’s Story: Not What Dreams Are Made Of

A personality shift, extreme thirst, losing weight, and cravings at strange times were all signs Julia had type 1 diabetes.
Sabrina Sosa type 1 diabetes diagnosis story

Sabrina’s T1D Diagnosis Story: ‘A Positive Side Exists…Now I Share My Symptoms’

Sabrina reflects on her diabetes diagnosis, her early years of living with it, and the signs her parents saw, which helped her achieve a timely diagnosis.
Irene Villagomez Hernandez Diagnosis Story

Recognizing the Signs: When Diabetes Shows Up a Second Time

After being diagnosed with hydrocephalus in his childhood, Emiliano was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 19. His mother, Irene, also lives with type 1 diabetes. This is their story.

Similar Signs, Different Diabetes: When Type 2 is Actually Type 1

Dex Gerald was misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he actually had type 1 diabetes. This is how his self-advocacy changed his diabetes story (for the better)!

Mama’s Instinct: Recognizing T1D Through the Signs

Haylie, who lives with type 1 diabetes, realized something was off when her baby started throwing a tantrum that felt different to others.

Fighting For a Type 1 Diagnosis: Vincent’s Story

For the six months before ER staff almost sent him home with a blood sugar over 900 mg/dL, 25-year-old Vincent had been feeling less and less like himself.

Ray Allen, His Son and the Fight for Type 1 Diabetes Awareness

NBA Hall-of-Famer Ray Allen opens up about his son's diagnosis with type 1 Diabetes. Shared with permission from 'The Athletic'

Trusting Intuition to Save Diego’s Life

Marlene shares the story of her son Diego's journey to a type 1 diagnosis and pleads for others to share the signs of diabetes.

One of the Lucky Ones

Mila reflects on her son Jaime's type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and how upon learning about the staggering rates of misdiagnosis, she became passionate about the #SeeTheSigns campaign

My Son Was Diagnosed With T1D During The Last Pandemic

There is never a good time to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but especially not if the country is in the middle of a flu pandemic.

Finding Myself Again

Janae Gray shares her type 1 diabetes diagnosis story, how it affected her fitness journey, and how she got back on track with her fitness goals post-diagnosis.

Diagnosed with Type 1 at Age 57

Laying there on the stretcher, I told the doctor that I knew I was bitten by a mosquito and probably had the Chikungunya virus. Then he looked at me and said my sugar level was 750 mg/dL and I was in DKA.

Mistaken for an Anorexic—My Type 1 Diagnosis

Anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders are common and dangerous misdiagnoses for diabetes, particularly in teens and preteens.

Kendall Simmons and His T1D Diagnosis in the NFL

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years into his pro career, former NFL defensive lineman Kendall Simmons went on to win the Super Bowl.

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WRITTEN BY BT1 Editorial Team, POSTED 11/09/22, UPDATED 05/23/23

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team