Type 2 diabetes affects nearly 10 percent of the United States adult population. An estimated 7 million people are not yet diagnosed. It’s important to know the early warning signs.
Recognizing the early signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes can allow a person to get a diagnosis and treatment sooner. Getting appropriate treatment can improve health and reduce the risk of severe complications.
The early signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include:
1. Frequent urination
Type 2 diabetes causes your body’s blood sugar levels to become too high. When blood sugar levels increase, the kidneys try to remove the excess sugar by filtering it out of the blood. This can lead to frequent urination, most often during the night.
Because you have so much extra glucose circulating that it comes out in your urine, you may also lose weight. Unexplained weight loss can be its own warning sign of diabetes.
2. Increased thirst
Frequent urination is critical in removing excess sugar from the blood, but it results in the body losing additional water. Over time, this can cause dehydration and lead to a person feeling more thirsty than usual. Often, drinking won’t satisfy the thirst.
3. Always feeling hungry
Increased hunger, or polyphagia, is another early warning sign of type 2 diabetes.
People with diabetes often do not get enough energy from the food they eat.
The digestive system breaks food down into glucose, which the body uses as fuel. In people with diabetes, not enough of this glucose moves from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. As a result, your body is constantly looking for fuel. Therefore, people with type 2 diabetes may experience constant hunger.
4. Blurry vision
Blurry vision occurs in the early stages of untreated diabetes.
High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, causing fluid to leak into the eye and impairing vision. Blurry vision can happen in one or both eyes and may come and go, but it will usually be resolved if treated properly.
If a person goes without treatment, the damage to the blood vessels can become more severe, and permanent vision loss could eventually occur.
5. Extreme fatigue
Type 2 diabetes can affect a person’s energy levels and cause them to feel very fatigued. This occurs as a result of insufficient sugar moving from the bloodstream into the body’s cells.
6. Slow healing of cuts and wounds
There are multiple reasons wounds will heal slowly if you have diabetes.
High levels of sugar in the blood can damage the body’s nerves as well as the blood vessels. This can impair blood circulation which restricts the needed nutrients and oxygen from getting to the wounds. Cuts or wounds may take weeks or months to heal.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can also damage your immune system so your body will have a harder time-fighting infection.
7. Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet
Because increased blood sugar levels affect blood circulation and damage the body’s nerves. People with type 2 diabetes, may experience pain or a sensation of tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
This condition is known as neuropathy. It typically develops slowly and you are likely to experience it after years of living with diabetes. It can worsen over time and lead to more serious complications if a person does not get treatment.
8. Patches of dark skin
Patches of dark skin can also be an early warning sign. This is due to the excess insulin in the blood.
These dark patches generally form on the creases of the neck, armpit, or groin. These patches may feel very soft and velvety. The skin also becomes thickened.
This skin condition is known as acanthosis nigricans.