Learning to recognise type 2 diabetes symptoms could help you secure an early diagnosis and begin treatment sooner. This is important, because type 2 diabetes can have a serious impact on your health.
Here’s what you need to know to recognise type 2 diabetes symptoms and work out if you may be a type 2 diabetic:
To recognise type 2 diabetes symptoms it’s important to first understand a few things:
Type 2 diabetes symptoms are caused by an abnormal level of glucose (a type of sugar) in your blood. This happens when your body can’t effectively break down glucose into energy – Either because your body isn’t producing enough insulin (a hormone that controls sugar processing) or your cells aren’t responding to it properly and have become ‘insulin resistant’.
If you don’t treat type 2 diabetes, the build-up of glucose in your blood can lead to circulatory, nervous and immune system disorders.
Many people with type 2 diabetes are asymptomatic and for many years have no signs of the disease. When symptoms do start to appear, often type 2 diabetes is characterized by:
While most people experience the same type 2 diabetes symptoms, some people develop less common symptoms.
Less common symptoms you should also look out for include:
Because type 2 diabetes is caused by your body not having enough insulin, or not responding to it well enough, most symptoms you’ll experience are caused by high blood sugar. However, as a type 2 diabetic there may also be times when your blood sugar level is too low (a.k.a. hypoglycemia). This will present type 2 diabetes low blood sugar symptoms.
Common type 2 diabetes low blood sugar symptoms include:
Type 2 diabetes usually appears in adults who are middle-aged or older – It’s also known as adult-onset diabetes.
However, as obesity can put people at greater risk of developing diabetes, and the level of obesity is increasing in children, type 2 diabetes is now being diagnosed in younger people.
Whatever age you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes though, the symptoms are typically the same.
Weight loss is a common symptom of type 2 diabetes. It’s caused by having a high blood glucose level for a long time and there are two reasons this will lead you to lose weight:
Unexplained weight loss is an early sign of type 2 diabetes, and recognising it quickly can often lead to an early diagnosis, helping you manage your disease sooner and more effectively.
To make a type 2 diabetes diagnosis a doctor will need to monitor your blood glucose level. To do this, they will typically advise you to take an A1C test (a.k.a. HbA1c).
An A1C test is a blood test that looks at the amount of glucose present in your haemoglobin (the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen). By measuring the amount of glucose in your haemoglobin a doctor can determine your average blood glucose level over the last two to three months.
If you can’t take an A1C test, either because it’s unavailable or you have a condition that may interfere with the test, your doctor may advise you to take an alternative test. Alternative tests include:
The first thing to do if you have type 2 diabetes symptoms is to see your doctor. If you do have type 2 diabetes, the earlier it can be diagnosed the better.
If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, or your doctor diagnoses you as prediabetic or diabetic, you should look to adjust your lifestyle. The sooner you can eliminate unhealthy habits and improve your lifestyle, the better your chances of avoiding type 2 diabetes, reducing the severity of your symptoms, or maybe even reversing it.
Here are some tips to effectively manage and treat your type 2 diabetes and live a longer, healthier, complication-free life: