- There are two types of diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2). Type 2 is the much more prevalent condition, primarily because it can develop due to poor lifestyle choices
- There are 14 early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes that individuals can be on the lookout for
- If caught at the prediabetes stage, the condition can potentially be treated and stopped from progressing into Type 2 diabetes
It’s estimated that more than 415 million people worldwide have diabetes.1 This chronic condition impacts how the human body turns food into energy. People with diabetes can’t produce enough insulin or properly use the insulin they produce. However, if you catch Type 2 diabetes early enough, at the prediabetes stage, you may be able to make lifestyle changes to reduce the progression to full-blown diabetes. Early diagnosis and behavior modification are only possible if you know the early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes.
Keep reading for the 14 early signs you should be on the lookout for.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
While there are two types of diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), Type 2 diabetes is much more common — especially in more developed countries. In the United States, more than 90 to 95 percent of all people with diabetes have Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition that typically presents itself early on. In comparison, Type 2 diabetes is often attributed to lifestyle choices, so it can appear at any point in life.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease where the body can’t make enough insulin, a critical hormone that helps manage the amount of glucose in the blood. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes often have to take medication for their condition. Over time, this disease can lead to other complications, including heart disease and stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, eye damage and blindness, pregnancy complications, sleep apnea, hearing issues and depression.2
The 14 Early Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
Individuals who suspect they’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can watch out for these 14 early warning signs. Keep in mind that there are a variety of factors that can lead to Type 2 diabetes. While this list contains key symptoms that can indicate something is going wrong with your body, it’s important to know that some warning signs can be more subtle than others. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor if you are worried about health issues.
1. Increased Hunger
The body uses the glucose in your blood to feed your cells. When the body can’t produce enough insulin, the cells can’t absorb the level of glucose they require. The body feels that it’s not getting enough fuel and responds with an increased appetite. This can create a vicious cycle in which you’re eating too much, which can compound the underlying problem and create additional issues for your health. If you’ve noticed increased hunger, it may be a good time to consult a medical professional.
2. Frequent Urination
A lack of insulin means your body can’t regulate its blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar levels are too high, your kidneys can’t keep up with ridding the body of the excess sugar. As a result, some of the sugar passes into your urine, leading to more frequent urination, particularly at night. If you’re urinating more frequently and it’s affecting your sleep cycle, consider consulting with a medical professional to ensure the issue can be managed.
3. Constant Thirst
The combination of high blood sugar levels and frequent urination leaves people with a constant thirst. This thirst typically can’t be satisfied no matter how much the person drinks. If you’re finding yourself to be thirsty no matter how much you drink, it may be time to consult with a medical professional. Always remember to avoid sugary drinks, as they can have a negative impact on your issues. It’s important to prioritize drinking water.
4. Blurred Vision
People with diabetes are at risk of losing the strength of their vision, and some individuals may even go blind from the condition (known as diabetic retinopathy). An early warning sign of Type 2 diabetes is blurred vision.
When blood sugar levels suddenly spike, it can impact the blood vessels in the eyes. Fluid flows into the lens of the eye and blurriness occurs. This blurriness typically goes away after a while, but if it happens frequently, it could be an early warning sign.
5. Increased Fatigue
If you find yourself getting a full eight hours of sleep and are constantly waking up feeling tired, it could signify a health issue. Because the body uses glucose for energy, depleted glucose levels can leave a person exhausted all the time. The link between diabetes and increased fatigue is quite common and known as diabetes fatigue syndrome.
Keep track of your sleep cycle, the amount of hours you sleep each night and your level of fatigue in the morning. If you are constantly fatigued each morning, that could indicate a problem.
6. Tingling or Numbness in Hands or Feet
Diabetes can sometimes cause nerve damage, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This can occur because high blood sugar levels impact proper blood circulation, eventually resulting in nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to a tingling, numbness or pain in the hands, fingers, feet, and toes.
Most people develop diabetic neuropathy after years of living with diabetes, but it can sometimes be an early first sign in some people.
7. Slow Healing Wounds
People with diabetes often notice that their wounds will heal more slowly. High blood sugar levels can eventually narrow your blood vessels. This results in slow blood circulation and stops necessary oxygen and nutrients from getting to wounds quickly. Sometimes, even minor cuts and injuries can take weeks or months to heal.
Beyond the obvious issues caused by slow healing flesh wounds, the body’s decreased healing ability will also affect any internal injuries or lesions. If minor cuts are taking weeks and months to heal, consult a medical professional.
8. Dark Patches of Skin
Diabetic people are prone to a condition known as acanthosis nigricans. This condition results in dark patches of skin that can feel velvety, soft, and smooth. The dark patches typically appear around creases on the body, including the armpit, groin, and neck. These dark patches of skin result from excessive insulin in a person’s bloodstream and are associated with diabetes because the condition causes insulin resistance. If you’re looking out for early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes, take the time to examine your body in a mirror.
9. Frequent Yeast Infections
For women, frequent yeast infections can sometimes be an early warning sign of Type 2 diabetes. When your blood sugar is high, your kidneys can’t work fast enough to filter it all out. As a result, some sugar ends up in your urine and can often trigger a yeast infection.
Frequent yeast infections are not only uncomfortable, they can also signal a serious health issue. If you’re experiencing a sudden rise in frequency of yeast infections, be sure to reach out to your physician.
10. Itchy Skin
Itchy skin is often one of the first warning signs of diabetes. This itchy skin can be related to various conditions caused by diabetes, including a yeast infection, fungal infection, or poor circulation.
Though itchy skin can be easy to dismiss, being mindful of it can help pinpoint potential issues. If you’ve noticed that you’re itchier than usual and that scratching doesn’t resolve the issue, it could be a sign of something more sinister.
11. Dry Mouth
Most people with diabetes suffer from a constantly dry mouth. While it’s unclear exactly why people with diabetes experience a dry mouth, it’s suspected that it has to do with high blood sugar levels. The dry mouth will present itself with the following symptoms:
- Dry, cracked lips
- Sores or infections in the mouth
- The mouth is dry no matter how much the person drinks
- Difficulties with chewing, swallowing, and speaking
- A rough and dry tongue
The constant swings between high and low blood sugar levels can lead to mood swings in many people. People with diabetes are prone to excessive feelings of irritability, anxiety and worry as their body struggles to adapt to changing blood sugar levels.
This sign goes beyond Type 2 diabetes. Irritability and mood swings might not affect your health directly, but they can interfere with your life and cause tension with those around you.
13. Unintended Weight Loss
People with diabetes can’t effectively use the glucose in their bodies for energy. As a result, the body sometimes responds by burning fat storage, and unexpected weight loss occurs.
Drastic weight loss can cause several health issues as well, including feeling much weaker than normal. While sudden weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean you have Type 2 diabetes, it can indicate other health issues. This is a very explicit sign that something is wrong and you shouldn’t hesitate to consult your doctor.
Most people develop prediabetes before progressing to Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes isn’t an official diabetes diagnosis yet and can come with some, but not all, diabetes warning signs. Catching prediabetes early on can be beneficial because it can give the person the chance to make lifestyle changes and take medication to stop the condition from developing further.
Your health is your most precious asset, but it can be fragile. It’s vital to get any symptoms checked out by a medical professional to determine what might be causing health issues.