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‘Does Diabetes Make You Tired?’ – The Facts About Diabetes and Fatigue

Does Diabetes Make You Tired - Girl Checking Blood Sugar

Exactly how strong is the link between Diabetes and tiredness?


In a word, yes… it surely can

Diabetes directly affects your blood sugar balance which gives you the energy to do things, and even feel energetic.

Although diabetes is quite wide spread, less is known about it than other common conditions. This is what we know about it so far…

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Fatigue, which may be extreme
  • Thirst, with frequent desire to urinate
  • Hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Weight loss (children)
  • Tingling feelings or numbness in the hands and feet (adults)

Why Should Diabetes Make You Tired?

The exact reason why Diabetes causes tiredness is a point of contention. Although there are many good reasons why it would, pinpointing exactly why is harder to prove. Here are the reasons why Diabetes could cause tiredness:

  • Blood sugar too high
  • Blood sugar too low
  • Blood sugar levels unstable
  • Sugars not being converted to energy by insulin
  • Too much food
  • Too little exercise
  • Depressed at the diagnosis
  • Difficulty in maintaining effective treatment regimens

What Studies Say About the Link

Despite the fact that fatigue is common and distressing for many diabetics, surprisingly little research has made clear exactly why this should be so.

The yo-yoing levels of blood sugar makes you tired. Both too high a level of blood glucose and too low a level contribute to exhaustion, which may not be fully alleviated by resting or sleep.

Another factor that could play a large part is that the insulin is unable to breakdown the sugar to use for energy, needed for every cell, will contribute to feelings of weariness.

Weariness may also be related to lifestyles that encompass too much food and too little exercise. In addition, the disheartening effect of the diagnosis and the practical difficulties effective treatment can cause emotional distress – which is, in itself, demoralizing and tiring. [6]

How Common is Diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases affecting people from every country. And Type 2 (adult) diabetes is increasing as we become ever more sedentary and increasingly obese. [1]

Are You One of the 422 Million with Diabetes?

Surveys based on the World Health Organization and the American Diabetes Association calculate that between 2010 and 2030, there will be a 69% increase in numbers of adults with diabetes in developing countries and a 20% increase in developed countries.

By 2030 there are likely to be 439 million adults with diabetes. At present about one on ten diabetics have type 1 diabetes, which cannot be prevented.

Two Forms of Diabetes

Just to complicate matters there are 2 distinct types of diabetes mellitus

Type 1 starts abruptly in childhood and type 2 which has an insidious onset, usually coming on in adulthood, although it is occurring more often now in children.

Both are caused by a lack of active insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by a gland called the pancreas; it is essential for the utilisation of carbohydrates in our diet. Not enough insulin means too much sugar in our blood stream.

Type 1 diabetes happens when the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed and they no longer produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes happens when the amount of insulin the pancreas can produce is insufficient for the demands made upon it, and resistance to insulin may also build up. [3]

How Does Diabetes Affect Me?

The mainstay of treatment is balancing the amount of insulin available to the amount needed by the body to use to convert the sugar to energy.

Does Diabetes Make You Tired - Type 2 Diabetes

The Most Common Diabetes

You may have Type 2 Diabetes and not know it!

Type 2 diabetes affects around 90-95% of diabetic people. It is often picked up during routine blood tests and before operations. If you are feeling very tired (which is a symptom) you need to be checked over by your doctor, and you may discover a high blood sugar indicating that you have diabetes – or are on the way to having it.

Type 2 diabetes often reflects life style. As we often work long hours on the office and have little time for exercise, so this disease can creep up on us unawares.

For young people, the console games instead of physically active games have led to larger children and an increased incidence of “adult” diabetes. It can create a vicious circle – little exercise leads to feeling more tired… leads to unwillingness to exercise…

Fortunately, there are things we can do to change matters; giving ourselves time to move around, and to eat a more healthy diet can often improve matters significantly.

However, this new lifestyle may be hard to maintain and weight is often regained. But it is important to keep our blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible to prevent the serious long- term complications of diabetes. [4]

Newer drugs and treatments are constantly being assessed and promoted. Once diagnosed, your specialist will advise you, and fatigue should not be a factor if you are keeping your glucose levels stable.

Type 1 Diabetes

About 5-10% of diabetics have this type of diabetes. So far there is little we can do to prevent T1D. But fast diagnosis and treatment designed to keep the blood sugar levels even throughout the 24 hours helps. Giving the correct amount of insulin at regular intervals or by constant infusion, enables the diabetic to live a normal and healthy life.

People with T1D learn to monitor their bodies, and adjust their insulin accordingly.

Fatigue will be just one of the indicators they need to take account of. Newer and more convenient ways of giving insulin are being developed and the possibility of pancreatic transplant is a further exciting development.


Diabetes is a common, world- wide disease, on the increase. Both childhood Type 1 and Adult Type 2 diabetes result from an insufficiency of insulin. You cannot prevent type 1 diabetes, but effective, life- long treatment is available. Type 2 diabetes may be preventable to some extent by being active and being the correct weight.

Fatigue may be one indicator that you need a blood test to diagnose the cause of your tiredness. Treatments to prevent the long- term problems associated with diabetes should be discussed with your doctor. A feeling of weariness need not continue if your treatment is effective.

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