People with classic symptoms of diabetes such as being tired and thirsty are waiting too long to be diagnosed, according to the State’s peak support group for the condition.

Diabetes WA said some people were being diagnosed only after suffering from life-threatening complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis, when the body starts running out of insulin.

Frank Sita is one of them, rushed to hospital sick and panting when he was a 17-year-old university student.

He had earlier presented to a doctor with the four “T signs” of diabetes — being thirsty, tired, thinner and going to the toilet a lot.

Mr Sita’s doctor told him he probably had a virus and should rest for a few days.

Three days later he was rushed to hospital, worried he was dying. The emergency doctor realised Mr Sita had diabetes ketoacidosis as a result of undiagnosed type-1 diabetes.

“In hindsight, it’s hard to believe that we weren’t able to recognise the symptoms,” Mr Sita said this week.

Now aged 26, he has his diabetes well controlled using the latest monitoring technology.

As part of National Diabetes Week, Diabetes WA is advocating for early detection to minimise the risk of complications.

About 640 Australians a year — half of them children and teenagers — end up with dangerously high blood-glucose levels because signs of type-1 diabetes are not recognised in time.

General manager for health services Deb Schofield said recognising symptoms early could help prevent the trauma of a medical emergency and get the right diagnosis to avoid feeling extremely unwell.

Earlier detection of type-2 diabetes could minimise the risk of long-term complications such as vision loss, kidney damage and heart disease. “It’s about time we better detected all types of diabetes,” Ms Schofield said.

People can also check their risk of type-2 diabetes to see if they need to go to their doctor for a fasting blood glucose test.

Details at diabeteswa.com.au/whats-your-risk