In this article, we’ll look at the early signs of type 2 diabetes. If you have one or more of these symptoms and haven’t had your blood sugar tested for diabetes, make an appointment to see a doctor. Early detection and treatment of type 2 diabetes can help prevent or delay complications like heart disease and kidney failure.
Increased thirst is one of the 14 early signs of type 2 diabetes. It’s important to know what causes increased thirst, and what you can do about it.
Your body loses fluid through sweat and urine. If your body doesn’t get enough water to replace what’s lost, you’ll feel thirsty. Diabetes makes it harder for your kidneys to get rid of glucose (sugar) in your blood—a process called glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The higher your blood sugar levels, the more water you’ll need to keep from dehydrating yourself further. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not this is an issue for you by running tests on your GFR levels as well as other factors such as:
- How often/much do I drink?
- How often/much am I urinating?
- Am I thirsty even when not eating food or drinking liquids?
The first sign of diabetes is often a dry mouth. You may have noticed that your mouth feels unusually dry, or that it’s hard to swallow anything other than fluids. This can be caused by high blood sugar (which increases the amount of water in your body), the diabetes medications metformin and insulin, or sulfonylureas such as glyburide and glipizide.
Frequent urination is a common early symptom for people with diabetes, the things you might want to notice are:
- You’re urinating more often than usual
- You wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom more frequently
- You have to go to the bathroom more often after eating or drinking alcohol
- You have to go to the bathroom more often after exercising, even if you haven’t been working out at full capacity.
And finally, someone with diabetes may also notice that their urine is darker than usual.
Fatigue is a common symptom for people with diabetes, and it’s often caused by high blood sugar levels. It can also be caused by other conditions unrelated to diabetes, such as anemia or heart disease.
If you’re experiencing fatigue that has no other obvious cause, talk to your doctor about how diet and exercise might help improve your symptoms—and don’t forget to mention any other symptoms you’ve been experiencing as well!
If you’re hungry all the time, it could be a sign that your blood sugar is lower than normal. This is because certain hormones control hunger and eating when blood sugar is high. When blood sugar drops too low, these hormones don’t work as well, which means that people with diabetes may experience severe hunger or cravings even if they have just eaten.
Whole-grain breads and cereals, vegetables, fruits and other whole foods provide fiber that helps control your glucose levels after meals by slowing down the absorption of sugars into your bloodstream. If you are experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), eat a small serving of complex carbohydrate food like fruit or whole grain bread to help stabilize your glucose levels.
Weight loss is a sign of type 2 diabetes. You may lose weight suddenly, or you may see gradual weight loss over time. Weight loss caused by insulin resistance can occur in many ways and can be difficult to detect. You could notice that your clothes are fitting looser than they once did, especially if you are exercising regularly without seeing any results on your scale. You might also find yourself getting hungry more often throughout the day, which means that you’re looking for something to nibble on all the time and eating more calories overall than ever before—even though it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing!
Blurry vision can be a sign of diabetes. This condition is caused by high blood sugar levels in the body, which can damage the optic nerve and lead to problems with your central vision.
If you notice that your eyesight is blurry or distorted, take steps to lower your blood sugar level by eating a low-carb diet and exercising regularly. If you have an underlying condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, work with a doctor who can help manage these issues as well as any diabetes symptoms.
Headaches are a common symptom of diabetes. They can be caused by dehydration, low blood sugar and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), high blood pressure (hypertension), or stress. For example:
- Dehydration may cause headaches because the body does not have enough water to keep the brain from swelling.
- Low blood sugar levels are most common in people who have type 1 diabetes but may also occur when someone with type 2 diabetes eats too little food or too much carbohydrate-rich food at once—or if they skip meals altogether and then eat too much at one time. This is why it’s important for anyone with diabetes to check their glucose level regularly throughout the day (and night).
Slow healing wounds or sores
Slow wound healing is also one of the early signs of type 2 diabetes. It can range from minor cuts and scratches to more severe wounds and sores that take longer to heal. If you notice this symptom, it’s important to get checked by a doctor right away because it may be a sign of other problems in your body.
Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. If you notice tingling, burning, or numbness in your hands or feet, it could be a sign that you have nerve damage from diabetes. This can happen because of high blood sugar levels and poor circulation. If you think this sounds like something that might be happening to you, ask your doctor about it! They may want to check for other symptoms of diabetes.
Darkened skin on the neck or armpits
Darkened skin on the neck or armpits is another sign of insulin resistance. As your body starts to produce more and more insulin to make up for its decreased ability to use it, you may notice dark patches of pigmentation on the skin in areas that are normally shaded by clothing. This increased production of melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color) is a good indicator that something’s not right under the surface.
Diabetes can increase your risk of infections, especially if you have poor blood sugar control. Over time, diabetes may damage your immune system. This can make it more difficult for your body to fight off bacteria and viruses that cause colds and other illnesses. In addition to frequent infections, people with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing serious infections such as tuberculosis (TB).
Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke caused by blood clots forming in small blood vessels inside or leading to the heart: These clots may break off from what’s called an atherosclerotic plaque in a coronary artery or in one main artery leading into the brain (dementia). As with other types of heart disease and stroke, people with type 2 diabetes who develop these conditions will most likely have them before they receive their diagnosis.
Dizzy spells or trouble keeping balance
Dizziness is common, but if you experience dizziness regularly or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms—such as blurred vision or extreme thirst—you should see your doctor. While the causes of dizziness may vary, here are some things to consider:
- Are there any foods that make me feel worse? Avoid those foods and see if your symptoms improve.
- Have I been under stress lately? Stress can increase blood sugar levels and lead to dizziness in some people. Try taking a break from activities that cause stress, such as work deadlines and family arguments (at least temporarily).
- Do I have low blood pressure? Some people with diabetes have extremely low blood pressure during periods of high blood sugar. This can cause them to feel lightheaded or faint when standing up suddenly after sitting for a long time or lying down for an extended period of time (for example, sleeping). Ask your doctor about how this might apply to you!
These symptoms may be subtle, but they’re worth looking into.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be subtle, but they’re worth looking into. You can have the condition and not know it.
If you experience any of the following signs, talk to your doctor. And if you’re worried about diabetes, ask yourself: Do I have these symptoms? If so, how much do my feet ache? How often do I need to use the bathroom during the night? And how long does it take me to recover from workouts or physical activity?