What are Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms?
Type 2 diabetes symptoms are usually clear and specific. When you notice some of them, it’s important to see your doctor for an evaluation. The presence of symptoms, of course, doesn’t automatically mean that you have type 2 diabetes. The strong correlation between type 2 diabetes symptoms and the disease simply alerts you to the possibility that something is going wrong with your metabolism. Having your symptoms checked can help you control the disease and take charge of your health. Here’s a look at type 2 diabetes symptoms to watch for.
List of Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Common type 2 diabetes symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Increased hunger
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Slow-healing cuts or sores
- Gum problems/gum disease
- Dry, itchy skin
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Change in weight (some people gain weight while others lose weight)
- Flu-like feeling
- Yeast infections
- Erectile dysfunction
What Causes the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving blood sugar and insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body either produces too little insulin or can’t use its insulin efficiently. The inability to use insulin is called insulin resistance.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body digests them into glucose (sugar). The glucose enters to the bloodstream so it can travel throughout the body entering cells. Glucose, though, is locked out of the cells and needs a key to get in. That key is the hormone insulin. In type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work correctly, and glucose is left floating around in the bloodstream. The result is high blood glucose (high blood sugar), a condition called hyperglycemia.
When glucose can’t get into the cells, you experience a lack of energy and the symptom of fatigue. Hyperglycemia is dangerous, and insulin resistance affects all parts and systems of your body. For example, kidneys have to work extra hard to filter out all of the excess sugar, and they draw fluid from all parts of the body leading to things like thirst, dryness, and blurred vision. High blood sugar damages nerves, causing the tingling sensations or numbness that are often symptoms. Hyperglycemia also negatively affects the body’s ability to heal cuts and infections, including the mouth’s ability to fight germs.
Knowing the symptoms and why they occur is important. Also important is understanding when the symptoms occur.
When Do Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms Occur?
The onset of type 2 diabetes symptoms is different than in type 1 diabetes ("What Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?"). In type 1, the immune system turns against the pancreas and destroys its ability to make insulin. Once the immune system attacks the pancreas, the process can be fast and the symptoms appear suddenly and often severely.
Type 2 diabetes develops more slowly—over months and often years. Because of lifestyle factors such as inactivity, unhealthy diet, and overweight or obesity, insulin resistance builds progressively as fat accumulates in the tissues and interferes in the ability of glucose to reach the cells.
Diabetes type 2 builds gradually enough that there is almost always a period called prediabetes in which blood glucose levels are elevated but lower than what is required for a diagnosis of diabetes. Unfortunately, there are typically no prediabetes symptoms to alert you that you have hyperglycemia. How doctors evaluate people, in this case, is to consider their risk factors, especially lifestyle factors mentioned above, and, if necessary, monitor blood glucose levels every one to three years to watch for the development of type 2 diabetes.
It would be nice to know diabetes symptoms early, but symptoms don’t begin to appear until blood sugar levels climb high enough. As glucose builds in the bloodstream, type 2 diabetes symptoms begin to appear. They’re often mild at first, but as hyperglycemia intensifies, more symptoms appear and they’re more noticeable.
If you notice any of the type 2 diabetes symptoms, use them as a call to action. Consult with your doctor and work with him or her to develop a treatment plan ("What Are Diabetes Treatment Guidelines?"). You can control your blood sugar and experience “symptoms” of wellness rather than symptoms of diabetes.
Peterson, T. (2022, January 4). What are Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/diabetes/main/what-are-type-2-diabetes-symptoms