Diabetes mellitus sufferers have too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose).


Diabetes mellitus sufferers have too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose). Among other things, this causes damage to blood vessels, nerves, the heart, eyes and kidneys. A healthy lifestyle can often help (particularly for type 2 diabetes), and medication and insulin are also administered.


Main symptoms

Diabetes often does not cause any symptoms in the early stages. As the disease progresses, the following symptoms occur:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Persistent large quantities of urine
  • Stomach ache
  • Hyperacidity of the blood (can lead to a coma)
  • With gestational diabetes, the pregnant woman doesn’t notice any symptoms, but the baby's development can be impaired.

Other symptoms

  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Calf cramps
  • Itching
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss


  • Impaired circulation in feet and legs
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • “Diabetic foot” (the toes can become gangrenous)
  • Wounds don’t heal well
  • Retinal changes can lead to blindness
  • Kidney damage
  • Sensory disturbances, in particular in hands and feet (numbness, tingling, persistent burning pain)

Causes and treatment


The body uses the hormone insulin to regulate its blood glucose levels, among others. Patients with diabetes mellitus either produce too little insulin (type 1 diabetes), or insulin's effect is reduced (type 2 diabetes). The causes are different:

Type 1
  • Autoimmune processes that destroy the insulin-producing cells
  • Patients often also suffer from other autoimmune diseases
Type 2
  • The body’s cells become less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Lifestyle (overweight, blood fat disorders)
Risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood sugar measurement
  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Blood fat measurement
  • Urine test
  • Examination of legs and feet (search for diabetes consequences)
  • Examination of eyes (search for diabetes consequences)
Possible therapies
  • Nutritional advice
  • Medication
  • Insulin (injection)

What can I do myself?

  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Healthy, low-fat diet
  • Sufficient exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Good skin care (wounds don't heal well with diabetes and need very good care)

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendation now.

What to do if blood sugar is too low
  • Lie down
  • Take glucose, drink orange juice or high-sugar beverages
    • Diabetes sufferers should always carry such food items with them
  • Contact a doctor if symptoms such as trembling, headaches or dizziness last for a long time or in the case of unconsciousness

When to see a doctor?

  • If there are risk factors (see “Causes”)
    • even if there are no symptoms yet
  • Excruciating thirst
  • Persistent large quantities

Further information

Schweizerische Diabetesgesellschaft (Swiss Diabetes Association)

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.