Reading this article could save your life. Based on research, the sooner people get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the better their chances of managing it effectively are. For example, if you’re in the early stages of diabetes and make lifestyle changes now, you can reduce your risk of developing complications like heart disease or stroke later on by up to 80 percent! So what are the 14 early signs of type 2 diabetes? Are you showing some of them already? And how do you know if you should see your doctor? Keep reading to find out.
The 14 early signs of type 2 diabetes are extremely easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for, so it’s important to be aware of them if you want to make sure your diabetes remains under control. In this article, we’ll go over what these signs are and how to address them before they spiral out of control.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and frequent blood sugar testing are critical to preventing type 2 diabetes. If you think you might be at risk of developing the disease, here are 14 early signs of type 2 diabetes that you should be on the lookout for. (If your symptoms persist or worsen after two weeks, see your doctor as soon as possible.)
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are too high because your body does not produce enough insulin, or because it cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. People with type 2 diabetes usually have problems with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond appropriately when insulin is present.
Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 diabetes in that people with type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin at all, and often require daily injections of synthetic insulin to stay alive. As opposed to these long-term effects on metabolism and health, people who develop type 2 diabetes slowly lose their ability to regulate blood sugar through natural processes.
Early Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
According to WebMD, there are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. The difference is that with type 1, a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin altogether; while with type 2, a person’s body resists insulin or doesn’t use it properly. As glucose can no longer enter cells, it begins to accumulate in your blood instead. So what are some early signs you may have developed type 2 diabetes? And what do you need to do about it? Here for an eye-opening slideshow on just how severe these symptoms can be.
Here are the 14 early signs of type 2 diabetes:
1. Frequent Urination
Frequent urination is one of the most common and early signs of type 2 diabetes. If you are peeing more than usual, more often than not, it could be a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high. Diabetes can lead to dehydration, which then leads to an increased need to urinate. That said, it’s also possible that frequent urination is just a normal part of aging. It’s important to consider how much fluid you drink throughout your day so that you don’t become dehydrated; if you are drinking enough fluids and still experience frequent urination as a symptom, see your doctor as soon as possible.
2. Increased Thirst
Many people experience increased thirst when they have type 2 diabetes. It is caused by dehydration, which is a symptom of blood sugar imbalances. To counteract high blood sugar levels, your body urinates out excess glucose and insulin via increased thirst. If you suddenly feel like you are always thirsty, there’s a good chance that it’s due to an underlying medical condition. Of course, it could be nothing serious at all—you may just need to drink more water. But if you suspect something more serious may be going on, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get some answers.
3. Stomach Aches
If you experience sudden stomach pains or cramps that last longer than a few minutes, it could be a sign of prediabetes. The main symptom of diabetes is persistent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) but other symptoms include frequent urination, extreme thirst, excessive hunger, and fatigue. Some people with type 2 diabetes report fatigue after eating certain foods, such as sweets and starches. In addition to taking your blood glucose levels regularly throughout the day, monitor how you feel when you eat different types of food. If something causes an unusual reaction—such as a headache or stomach ache—you may have type 2 diabetes.
4. Increased Fatigue
Sleep deprivation can cause chronic fatigue and affect your metabolism in a way that increases your risk for type 2 diabetes. Why? Because not getting enough sleep can interfere with insulin production, among other things. Fatigue is one of many symptoms you should watch out for if you have prediabetes. Other signs include frequent urination, increased thirst, and hunger, weight loss or gain without a change in diet or exercise habits, blurry vision, or tingling in hands and feet. So how much sleep do you need every night to avoid developing type 2 diabetes? According to medical professionals, adults between 18-64 years old should get at least 7 hours a night while those over 65 should get 7-8 hours each night.
It’s important to remember that feeling drowsy is a symptom—it doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes. After all, we can all feel drowsy at times, particularly if we’re tired or not getting enough sleep. Sleepiness is one of many symptoms people experience when they have type 2 diabetes, so it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor if you find yourself sleepy during situations where you typically feel awake.
Most people assume that sleepiness means a person is tired, but sleepiness is actually a symptom and can often be confused with low blood sugar. As blood glucose levels drop below 4 mmol/L (72 mg/dL), your body will start to break down fat stores in order to use energy. This can cause a dip in blood glucose, leading to feelings of drowsiness or fatigue. If you’re experiencing drowsiness during situations where you typically feel awake, it could be a sign that your glucose levels are too low. By itself, low blood sugar doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes – so if you feel drowsy during normal waking hours, speak with your doctor about how to prevent another episode.
6. Changes in Vision
People with diabetes often see changes in their vision as well. One sign is blurry vision, which can be a symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This happens because high blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, making it difficult for your eyes to focus on what they’re seeing. Another possible warning sign is worsening eyesight that doesn’t improve when you switch to new glasses or contacts. If you have any eye problems that last more than two weeks, contact your doctor right away; it could be a side effect of diabetes.
7. Pain or Tingling in Hands and Feet
If you notice pain or tingling in your hands or feet, they may be one of the first signs that you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. These symptoms could be an early indication that your body is already beginning to experience damage to small blood vessels and nerves in these areas, which means it’s starting to show signs that it can’t effectively use sugar as fuel. If left unchecked, there is a strong likelihood that insulin levels will continue to rise and these changes will cause severe long-term complications. Not only is type 2 diabetes preventable with a healthy diet and lifestyle, but early identification allows for earlier intervention—the sooner you get started on treatment, the better off you’ll be.
As mentioned above, prediabetes is a state where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. According to estimates from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are roughly 79 million Americans with prediabetes; because they don’t know it, most aren’t doing anything about it. If you have at least one other risk factor, that’s reason enough to get checked for prediabetes. We’ll cover some potential signs below, but if you suspect that you may have diabetes or prediabetes—or if you’re just worried about your overall health—it’s a good idea to check with your doctor and get a full checkup.
9. Slow Healing Wounds
This is one early sign that many people ignore. However, it’s crucial to realize that even minor wounds take much longer to heal if you have diabetes. For example, a cut or a scrape on your arm could take weeks to close up, and a small bruise could actually become infected because it takes longer for your body to stop bleeding. If you’re experiencing slow healing wounds, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away to make sure you don’t have diabetes.
10. Unintended Weight Loss
Loss of weight without a conscious effort to do so is a common early sign. The reasoning behind it is simple: When your body isn’t receiving enough glucose, it’ll burn through its own fat stores and turn them into energy instead. Also, be on alert if you find yourself eating more carbs than usual and gaining weight. In some people, rising blood glucose levels can cause an increase in insulin production as well, which leads to both an increase in carb consumption as well as fat storage.
Are you on edge, angry and short-tempered? Irritability is one sign of diabetes. It can affect your mood for no apparent reason. Being in a bad mood for no good reason may be nothing more than your body trying to tell you something – like that you have diabetes and are low on energy. If your blood sugar has been high over a long period of time, it could be depleting your energy levels. But if it happens only occasionally, there could be other issues at play (like hormones). It’s important to get checked out by a doctor so you can figure out what’s going on – and get some answers as to why you’re feeling so irritated or angry all the time.
12. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is one of those early signs that can be easy to dismiss as a sign of something else. Chances are, you’ve noticed your mouth feeling more dry than usual and just written it off as a symptom of fatigue or getting older. However, dry mouth could be a sign that something’s wrong—namely, diabetes. If you regularly feel thirsty for no reason or wake up with a dry mouth every morning, see your doctor discuss diabetes (which might also come with symptoms like weight loss and fatigue).
13. Itchy Skin
One of the first signs that something might be wrong is itchy skin. As a result, many new-onset diabetics experience dry, scaly skin on their arms and legs. One study showed that 72% of all people with diabetes have an itch they can’t scratch at some point in time, which suggests that dry skin is just as much a part of living with diabetes as blood glucose levels. Dry skin can also be an early indicator of kidney damage due to high blood glucose levels or peripheral nerve damage caused by poor circulation or infection. It may not seem like a big deal—your doctor will want to know about it regardless—but don’t ignore those itchy spots until you realize how serious they are.
14. Frequent Yeast Infections
Overweight and obesity are risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, people who are overweight and obese have a greater chance of getting an infection in their mouth or vaginal area from Candida albicans (which is yeast). Yeast infections can cause frequent urination, which can lead to dehydration and high blood sugar levels. If you’re over 40 years old, you should be on the lookout for yeast infections—especially if you notice frequent urination. If left untreated, yeast infections may contribute to high blood sugar levels—and possibly even diabetes. Talk to your doctor if you feel like something’s off with your health or if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem. There are many people suffering from it today, and many more will be diagnosed with it in future years. The sooner we catch it, however, and take steps to treat it, the better our chances of avoiding its damaging effects on our bodies and our health. The above symptoms should be looked into by anyone experiencing them on a regular basis. If you have diabetes (or think you might) or know someone who does, make sure they talk to their doctor right away about diagnosis and treatment options!
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Knowing these signs and being aware of them can make a huge difference to your health and well-being. By keeping your eyes open for them, you will be able to spot it early on and treat it sooner. You’ll feel better, live longer, and enjoy life more if you do!
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