Diagnosing Diabetes

Symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose diabetes. Some people with diabetes have no symptoms. In others, diabetes-like symptoms may be caused by other health problems. However, your symptoms can give your doctor a clue as to what's going on with your body.

If you think you have any symptoms of diabetes, schedule an appointment with your doctor!


Be prepared to answer these questions from your doctor:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did they begin?
  • How often do your symptoms occur?
  • Under what circumstances do symptoms occur? 
  • Are they constant or do they come and go?
  • What do your symptoms feel like?
  • Have you had any of these symptoms before? When?

In addition to your current symptoms, your doctor also bases his or her diagnosis of diabetes on the following:

  • your personal medical history
  • your family medical history
  • a physical exam
  • lab tests

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Medical History

A complete medical history can help your doctor diagnose your condition, so be as thorough as possible when sharing yours. Since diabetes tends to run in families, be sure to give your doctor an accurate and complete family medical history that includes any family history of diabetes. If you do not know everything about your family, it can help to have a close relative assist you with this information. 

Written by award-winning health writer Bobbie Hasselbring

Reviewed by Beth Seltzer, MD

Last updated June 2008