Guide to Recognizing Type 2 Diabetes Signs and Symptoms

Diabetes is often diagnosed after a patient notices changes in their health and discusses those concerns with a physician. If you are at risk for diabetes and experience certain symptoms, you may be tested for type 2 diabetes.

Early detection can lead to more positive outcomes and can help you manage the disease. Recognizing Type 2 diabetes signs and symptoms can help you get the care you need to live a healthy and active life.

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Jun 3, 2022

timer 5 minutes read

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when your body is unable to process the carbohydrates you eat to create energy. Insulin is a hormone that normally facilitates the conversion of sugar (glucose) into energy by unlocking the cells to let the glucose in. When insulin is not available or falls short of the amount needed, glucose remains in the blood, potentially causing havoc in your eyes, feet, heart and other organs.

The three types of diabetes are labeled Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. If you have had gestational diabetes while pregnant, you may be at high risk for developing Type 2 later in life. Type 2 is the most common form, but it can be manageable if you identify and address the diabetes warning signs.

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Importance of Early Diabetes Diagnosis

The American Diabetes Association found that “early detection of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.”

Awareness of diabetes signs and symptoms followed by early diagnosis and treatment is your best hedge against potential diabetes-related health conditions, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis, heart failure and arrhythmias)
  • Kidney disease
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Diabetic eye disease
  • Stroke
  • Neuropathy

According to the American Diabetes Association, most people who have Type 2 diabetes had prediabetes but did not show clear symptoms. Prediabetes is when your blood glucose levels are above normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. This is why checkups, including vision exams, are so important.

Type 2 Diabetes Signs and Symptoms

When a function of the body is not working properly, it naturally tries to compensate in some way. Pay attention to these changes. If you are at risk for diabetes, your body may be giving you diabetes warning signs, which often develop slowly over several years and may be mild enough to easily overlook.

The following are seven diabetic signs and symptoms for you to discuss with your doctor.

1. Increased thirst and urination

Your kidneys filter waste from your blood through capillaries with tiny holes, and the waste products are removed through urine. If you have diabetes, the filtering system can break down over time because high blood glucose levels force your kidneys to work harder. Frequent urination could be a sign that your kidneys are struggling to filter too much blood.

2. Extreme fatigue and weight loss

When glucose cannot move from your blood to your cells, your body does not have the capacity to produce the energy required for activities you normally perform each day, making you feel more tired than usual. You may also experience weight loss because your body needs to draw energy from muscle and fat to compensate for the failure to derive energy from food.

3. Skin conditions

Though anyone can get itchy skin or skin infections, you are more susceptible if you have diabetes. Some skin issues impact mostly, or exclusively, people with diabetes. One example is acanthosis nigricans, tan or brown raised skin surfaces, which primarily affects people who are overweight. Another diabetes-related skin ailment is diabetic dermopathy. You can detect dermopathy by looking for light brown, scaly areas that take on an oval or circular shape, often mistaken for age spots.

4. Vision disorders

The American Diabetes Association states that “diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18-64 years old.” Signs and symptoms of diabetes affecting your eyes include blurry vision, dark spots that may look like holes, light flashes, increasing floaters and trouble with night vision.

5. Tingling or pain in feet

Your foot may feel like it’s weak, tingling, burning or stinging. Some people lose sensation in their feet. This can be caused by diabetic neuropathy nerve damage. You may have problems with blood flow to your feet. Be attentive to the shape of your toes and feet, and take note of any changes.

6. Sores that are not healing

The American Academy of Dermatology warns that poor blood circulation and nerve damage caused by long-term high blood glucose make it difficult for your body to heal properly. Check your skin for open wounds, especially on your feet, as these may be diabetic ulcers.

7. Hearing loss

Though the reason is unclear, studies have shown a correlation between diabetes and hearing loss. The American Diabetes Association reports that “of the 133 million adults in the United States who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher than in those with normal blood glucose.” Notice if you often ask people to repeat themselves, turn up audio devices that others perceive as too loud, or think that people speaking to you are mumbling.

Lifestyle Change Program

If you have Type 2 diabetes or are concerned that you are at risk, lifestyle changes can make a difference. The National Diabetes Prevention Program has a mission to help people cultivate healthy behaviors that become lifetime habits. A curriculum approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a key component of the program, a three-prong approach comprised of structured lessons, lifestyle coaching and group support from people who can help you cope and succeed.

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