Understanding Overt Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Management

Understanding Overt Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Management

Written by Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Grace Wang, NP

5 min read

Overt Diabetes

What Is Overt Diabetes?

Overt diabetes refers to a stage of diabetes where blood glucose levels are significantly elevated, and symptoms of diabetes are clearly present and diagnosable. Unlike prediabetes or latent diabetes, where symptoms may be mild or absent, overt diabetes indicates a full development of the condition, requiring immediate and comprehensive management.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Overt Diabetes

Overt diabetes, also known as uncontrolled or advanced diabetes, presents with noticeable symptoms that are more pronounced compared to the early stages of the condition. It's crucial to be aware of these symptoms to seek timely medical attention and manage the condition effectively. Here are common symptoms of overt diabetes:

  1. Excessive Thirst and Urination: Individuals with overt diabetes may experience a marked increase in thirst and urination. This excessive urination, known as polyuria, is often accompanied by a persistent feeling of thirst (polydipsia). The frequent urination can lead to dehydration if not adequately addressed.
  2. Significant Weight Loss: Despite having an increased appetite, people with overt diabetes may experience unexplained weight loss. This unintentional weight loss can occur due to the body's inability to properly utilize glucose for energy, leading to the breakdown of muscle and fat tissues.
  3. Fatigue: Overt diabetes can cause persistent fatigue and lethargy, even after getting sufficient rest. The body's inability to effectively metabolize glucose for energy can result in feelings of tiredness and weakness.
  4. Vision Changes: Blurriness or sudden changes in vision, not attributable to existing eye conditions, may indicate uncontrolled diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels can affect the lens of the eye, leading to fluctuations in vision quality.
  5. Slow-Healing Wounds: People with overt diabetes may notice that cuts, bruises, or wounds take longer than usual to heal. High blood sugar levels can impair the body's ability to fight infections and repair damaged tissues, resulting in delayed wound healing.
  6. Numbness or Tingling: Peripheral neuropathy, characterized by numbness, tingling, or burning sensations, is common in individuals with uncontrolled diabetes. This nerve damage often affects the extremities, such as the feet and hands, and can lead to sensory disturbances and impaired mobility.

Related: Caring for Diabetic Feet: Navigating Through Xerosis Diabetes

Diagnosing Overt Diabetes

The diagnosis of overt diabetes involves a series of tests aimed at measuring blood glucose levels to assess the presence of the condition. Healthcare providers use various diagnostic tools to accurately identify diabetes and determine the appropriate treatment approach. Here are the primary tests used for diagnosing overt diabetes:

Fasting Blood Sugar Test:

    • This test measures blood glucose levels after an overnight fast, typically for 8 to 12 hours.
    • A blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher on two separate occasions is indicative of diabetes.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT):

    • During this test, an individual fasts overnight, and then they consume a sugary solution.
    • Blood sugar levels are measured before and two hours after ingesting the glucose solution.
    • A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher two hours after the glucose intake suggests diabetes.

HbA1c Test:

    • The HbA1c test provides an average of blood glucose levels over the past 2 to 3 months by measuring the percentage of hemoglobin with glucose attached.
    • An HbA1c level of 6.5% or higher on two separate tests is indicative of diabetes.

These diagnostic tests help healthcare providers assess blood glucose levels and confirm the presence of overt diabetes. It's essential to perform these tests accurately and interpret the results within the clinical context to make an accurate diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment.

If any of these tests indicate elevated blood glucose levels consistent with diabetes, healthcare providers may recommend further evaluation and management to control blood sugar levels and prevent complications associated with diabetes. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical for effectively managing overt diabetes and promoting overall health and well-being.

Effective Management Strategies for Overt Diabetes

Managing overt diabetes involves implementing comprehensive strategies aimed at reducing blood glucose levels and minimizing the risk of complications. Here are key approaches to effectively manage the condition:

Lifestyle Modifications:

    • Diet: Adopting a balanced diet is crucial for controlling blood sugar levels. Focus on consuming foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Limit intake of simple sugars and processed foods, which can cause rapid spikes in blood glucose levels.
    • Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity is essential for improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood glucose levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, supplemented with strength training exercises.
    • Weight Management: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight plays a significant role in diabetes management. Losing excess weight, especially abdominal fat, can improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.

Medication Management:

    • In addition to lifestyle modifications, medication may be necessary to help control blood glucose levels in individuals with overt diabetes. Oral medications such as metformin, sulfonylureas, and DPP-4 inhibitors may be prescribed to lower blood sugar levels.
    • Insulin therapy may be recommended for individuals who cannot adequately control their blood glucose levels with oral medications alone.

Regular Monitoring:

    • Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels is essential for assessing the effectiveness of treatment and making necessary adjustments. Individuals with overt diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels as recommended by their healthcare provider and report any significant changes or concerns.

Education and Support:

    • Education about diabetes management and self-care practices is vital for empowering individuals to take control of their health. Diabetes education programs can provide valuable information about nutrition, exercise, medication management, and monitoring.
    • Support from healthcare providers, diabetes educators, and support groups can also help individuals cope with the challenges of managing overt diabetes and adhere to treatment plans.

Regular Healthcare Visits:

    • Regular visits to healthcare providers are essential for monitoring diabetes-related complications and addressing any concerns or questions. Healthcare providers can assess overall health, review blood sugar levels, adjust medication regimens as needed, and provide guidance on lifestyle modifications.

Medication and Monitoring in Diabetes Management

Effective management of diabetes involves a combination of medication and regular monitoring to achieve and maintain optimal blood sugar levels. Here's how medication and monitoring play a crucial role in diabetes care:

Blood Glucose Monitoring:

    • Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is essential for individuals with diabetes to track their glycemic control and make informed decisions about their treatment.
    • Self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) allows individuals to check their blood sugar levels at home using a blood glucose meter. This information helps them understand how their lifestyle choices, such as diet and physical activity, affect their blood sugar levels.
    • Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems provide real-time glucose readings throughout the day, offering valuable insights into glucose trends and patterns.


    • Depending on individual needs and the type of diabetes, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to help lower blood sugar levels and improve glycemic control.
    • Oral medications such as metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT2 inhibitors, and GLP-1 receptor agonists are commonly used to manage type 2 diabetes.
    • Insulin therapy may be necessary for individuals with type 1 diabetes or those with type 2 diabetes who cannot achieve adequate glycemic control with oral medications alone. Insulin therapy may involve multiple daily injections or the use of insulin pumps.

Regular Check-Ups:

    • Frequent consultations with healthcare providers are essential for individuals with diabetes to monitor their condition and make adjustments to their treatment plans as needed.
    • During check-ups, healthcare providers assess overall health, review blood sugar levels, monitor for diabetes-related complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy, and provide guidance on lifestyle modifications.
    • Healthcare providers may also conduct tests such as A1C tests, lipid profiles, kidney function tests, and foot examinations to evaluate diabetes management and detect any potential complications early.

By combining medication therapy with regular blood glucose monitoring and healthcare check-ups, individuals with diabetes can effectively manage their condition, prevent complications, and lead healthier lives. It's essential for individuals to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to their specific needs and goals.

Conclusion: Navigating Overt Diabetes

Understanding what overt diabetes is and recognizing its symptoms are crucial steps in managing this condition effectively. With the right diagnosis and management strategies, including lifestyle changes, medication, and regular monitoring, individuals with overt diabetes can lead healthy and active lives. It's essential to work closely with healthcare professionals to tailor a management plan that meets individual health needs and goals.