The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, and many cases of type 2, is usually prompted by recent-onset symptoms of excessive urination (polyuria) and excessive thirst (polydipsia), often accompanied by weight loss. These symptoms typically worsen over days to weeks; about a quarter of people with new type 1 diabetes have developed some degree of diabetic ketoacidosis by the time the diabetes is recognized. The diagnosis of other types of diabetes is usually made in other ways. These include ordinary health screening; detection of hyperglycemia during other medical investigations; and secondary symptoms such as vision changes or unexplainable fatigue. Diabetes is often detected when a person suffers a problem that is frequently caused by diabetes, such as a heart attack, stroke, neuropathy, poor wound healing or a foot ulcer, certain eye problems, certain fungal infections, or delivering a baby with macrosomia or hypoglycemia.
There is no practical cure, at this time, for type 1 diabetes. The fact that type 1 diabetes is due to the failure of one of the cell types of a single organ with a relatively simple function (i.e. the failure of the beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans) has led to the study of several possible schemes to cure this form of diabetes mostly by replacing the pancreas or just the beta cells. Only those type 1 diabetics who have received either a pancreas or a kidney-pancreas transplant (often when they have developed diabetic kidney disease (ie, nephropathy) and become insulin-independent) may now be considered "cured" from their diabetes. A simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant is a promising solution, showing similar or improved survival rates over a kidney transplant alone. Still, they generally remain on long-term immunosuppressive drugs and there is a possibility that the immune system will mount a host versus graft response against the transplanted organ. Type 2 has had no definitive cure, although recently it has been shown that a type of gastric bypass surgery can normalize blood glucose levels in 80-100% of severely obese patients with diabetes. The precise causal mechanisms are being intensively researched; its results are not simply attributable to weight loss, as the improvement in blood sugars precedes any change in body mass. This approach may become a standard treatment for some people with type 2 diabetes in the relatively near future. This surgery has the additional benefit of reducing the death rate from all causes by up to 40% in severely obese people. A small number of normal to moderately obese patients with type 2 diabetes have successfully undergone similar operations.