Diabetes and Infection: How to Spot the Signs

Medically Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 13, 2021

Diabetes can slow down your body's ability to fight infection. The high sugar levels in your blood and tissues allow bacteria to grow and help infections develop more quickly. Common sites for these problems are your bladder, kidneys, vagina, gums, feet, and skin. Early treatment can prevent more serious issues later on.

What to Look For

Most infections in people with diabetes can be treated. But you have to be able to spot the symptoms. Tell your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Fever over 101 F
  • Sweating or chills
  • Skin rash
  • Pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling
  • Wound or cut that won't heal
  • Red, warm, or draining sore
  • Sore throat, scratchy throat, or pain when you swallow
  • Sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches, or tenderness along upper cheekbones
  • Dry or moist cough that lasts more than 2 days
  • White patches in your mouth or on your tongue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, aches, headache, or fatigue) or generally feeling "lousy"
  • Vaginal itching
  • Painful or frequent peeing or a constant urge to go
  • Bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling pee

Show Sources

SOURCE: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: “Prevent Diabetes Problems: Keep Your Feet and Skin Healthy.”

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