The Must-Know Signs of Type 2 Diabetes

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Are You Experiencing Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Feeling excessively tired or insatiably thirsty? Using the bathroom more frequently? Experiencing blurred vision? You may be experiencing symptoms of high blood sugars. If you are above the age of 45, have been diagnosed with pre diabetes, are overweight, inactive, or you are an African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American and are experiencing atypical symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician and get checked.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report says that 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the U.S. population have diabetes. And while 21.0 million people have been diagnosed, there is about 8.1 million people who are walking around with diabetes and don't know it (27.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed). Symptoms of diabetes vary from person to person. But, the earlier you catch it the better. Pay attention to the following symptoms...

 

Sources: 

National Diabetes Information Clearing House. Am I at risk for type 2 diabetes. Accessed on-line. February 19, 2015: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/riskfortype2/#7

Center for Disease Control. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014. Accessed on-line. February 24, 2015: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf

Polyuria - Excessive Urination

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Polyuria is defined as an increase in frequency of urination. To meet the clinical definition of polyuria, urine output for an adult must exceed 2.5 liters per (normal urine output is 1.5 liters per day). This can occur as a result of your body's attempt to get rid of excess sugar. When you have abnormally high levels of sugar in your blood, your kidneys draw in water from your tissues to dilute the sugar in your blood so that your body can get rid of it through the urine.

The cells are also pumping water into the bloodstream to help flush out sugar, and the kidneys are unable to reabsorb this fluid during filtering which results in excess urination. Excess urination also can cause dehydration, which increases the sensation to drink. 

Polydipsia - Excessive Thirst

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Excessive thirst typically goes hand-in-hand with increased urination. As your body pulls water out of the tissues to dilute your blood and to rid your body of sugar through the urine, the urge to drink increases. Many people describe this thirst as an unquenchable one. To stay hydrated, you drink excessive amounts of liquids. And if those liquids contain simple sugars, such as, soda, iced tea, lemonade, etc.

your sugars will skyrocket even higher. 

Extreme Fatigue

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Your body is like a car - it's needs fuel to function. It's primary source of fuel is glucose (sugar). Foods that contain carbohydrate get broken down into sugar. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, takes sugar from your blood to your cells to use for energy. However, when you have diabetes, either your pancreas isn't making enough insulin or the insulin that your body is making isn't being used the way its supposed to be, typically because the cells become resistant to it.

This results in your cells becoming deprived of sugar or fuel. The result: tiredness and extreme fatigue. Often tiredness gets misunderstood as hunger, and people eat more. 

Polyphasia - Excessive Hunger

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Polyphasia is defined as excess hunger, which goes hand-in-hand with fatigue and cell starvation. Because the cells are resistant to the body's insulin, glucose remains in the blood. The cells are then unable to gain access to glucose, which can trigger hunger hormones that tell the brain that you are hungry. Excessive eating can complicate things further by causing blood sugars to go up higher.

Numbness or Tingling in Your Hands and Feet

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Numbness, tingling, or "pins and needles" in the extremities is referred to has neuropathy. Neuropathy is usually a symptom that occurs gradually over time as excess sugar damages the nerves. Keeping blood sugars within normal range can help to prevent further damage and reduce symptoms. People with severe symptoms may receive medication. 

Resources: 

American Diabetes Association. Peripheral Neuropathy.

Accessed on-line. February 25, 2015: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/peripheral-neuropathy.html

Cuts and Bruises That are Slow to Heal

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

When the blood is thick with sugar, nerves and circulation can be affected. Adequate circulation is needed to heal. Poor circulation can make it hard for blood to reach affected areas, slowing down the healing process. If you notice that you've had a cut or bruise that is very slow to heal, this could be a sign of high blood sugars.

Resources: . 

American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Symptoms. Accessed on-line.

February 26, 2015.

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Blurred vision can result from elevated blood sugar. Similarly, fluid that is pulled from the cells into the bloodstream to dilute the sugar, can also be pulled from the lens of your eyes. When the lens of the eye becomes dry, the eye is unable to focus, resulting in blurry vision. It's important that all people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have a dilated eye exam shortly after diagnosis. Damage to the eye can occur before a diagnosis of diabetes exists.

 

Written or medically reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Policy.

Updated July 16, 2015.

Some people experience less common symptoms:
  • Weight loss is usually associated in diagnosing Type 1 diabetes, but it can occur in Type 2 diabetes as well
  • Erectile dysfunction can occur after years of high sugars
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Frequent infections, such as, yeast infections in women
  • Acanthosis nigricans: a dark "velvety" can appear in the armpits, groin and neck folds, and over the joints of the fingers and toes. It is an indicator of high insulin and is seen more commonly in African Americans 


  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth - a sign of dehydration which can result for increased urination

Sources: 

U.S. Library of Medicine. National Institute of Health. Acanthosis Nigricans. Accessed on-line. February 26, 2015: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000852.htm

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