Symptoms of Diabetes Include: Pee, P, and P

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Martin North
  • Published September 5, 2014
  • Word count 623

Symptoms Of Diabetes Include: Pee, P, and P

The Main 3 Diabetic Symptoms

When learning about diabetes in nursing school, I learned that a simple way to always remember the most common symptoms was the "3 Ps" (polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia) in technical terms. In English, this meant one peed a lot, was more than thirsty than normal, and experienced an increased appetite, respectively.


If you were wondering if you may have this symptom of diabetes, an important question to ask is: am I making more trips to the bathroom to urinate than normal? If so, this should raise a red flag. This symptom happens because when blood sugar gets higher than it should, the kidneys, in an effort to maintain even glucose levels, will filter out more sugar out of the blood and expel it via excessive urination. Remember, the body always acts to maintain an even "state" which is called homeostasis.


Also known as excessive thirst, this is the second red flag symptom of diabetes and is a direct result from the previously mentioned polyuria. With the kidneys pumping more fluid volume out of the body, the thirst receptors (osmoreceptors) are activated in an effort to correct the developing dehydration. So if you think you might have this diabetic symptom, pay close attention if the excessive thirst relates to the more frequent urination.


If you experience the above 2 symptoms of diabetes, determining if hunger is excessive or a change from previous patterns can complete the red flag triad and be nearly diagnostic for diabetes. Because of the homeostasis mechanism described earlier, since the kidneys are getting rid of excessive sugar, the body is not getting the required glucose it needs to function properly. So, the brain is triggered to increase food intake which results in serum blood sugar levels returning to normal, theoretically, but they don’t because of the inherent diabetic pathophysiology.

Additional Symptoms of Diabetes

Since the three above symptoms are so inter-related, it would be a mistake, if you suspected you may have diabetes to base this solely on one of the symptoms just described. The above triad is not totally diagnostic, therefore, testing in the form of a glucose tolerance test as well as fasting blood glucose levels are the gold standard health care providers use to arrive at a confirmatory diagnosis of diabetes.

Aside from the "classic three", generalized weakness and fatigue is a common vague symptom that is a frequently overlooked symptom of diabetes. This occurs because of an excess of glucose outside of the cell; it’s literally in starvation mode since normally, insulin helps glucose enter the cell. So when they cell can’t function like they should, general weakness and fatigue develop.

In addition, another symptom is the development of something called diabetic neuropathy. This may not be noticeable for quite some time as it develops over a period of years, but can be very debilitating when it takes hold. Inflammation and decreased blood supply to the nerves caused by thickened small blood vessels are the primary mechanisms of this process. This results in the common description of pins and needles sensations. Fortunately, when blood sugar is brought down to normal levels, the neuropathy can be well managed and can lead to a reduction in pain and the pins and needles sensations.

Other symptoms of diabetes include blurred vision and even frequent infections or cuts that do not heal easily. Women should pay special attention to more frequent yeast infections as diabetes is considered an immunocompromised state.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please contact your healthcare provider for medical advice and treatment of diabetes or any other medical condition.

MJ North RN, BSN has 15 years of experience caring for those who have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes. He is committed to writing quality articles in an effort to help manage or even prevent the complications that come with diabetes.

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