Could You Have Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes affects millions of Americans. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body is not able to use the hormone insulin properly. Insulin is necessary for glucose (sugar) to get from your blood into your cells to be used for energy. When there is not enough insulin — or it doesn’t function as it should — glucose accumulates in the blood instead of being used by the cells. Often there are no type 2 diabetes symptoms, or they may be mild and go unrecognized.
To assess your chances of developing type 2 diabetes or prediabetes (when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify as diabetes), take our risk test. Here are seven signs that you might have type 2 diabetes.
When there is excess glucose present in the blood, as with type 2 diabetes, the kidneys react by flushing it out of the blood and into the urine. This results in more urine production and the need to urinate more frequently. If you notice you have to go to the bathroom more often than you used to — including perhaps needing to get up every couple of hours during the night to urinate — and you seem to be producing more urine when you do go, talk to your doctor about whether you could have type 2 diabetes.
High blood glucose sets up a domino effect of sorts within your body. High blood sugar leads to increased production of urine and the need to urinate more often. Frequent urination causes you to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. Consequently, you develop a dry mouth and feel thirsty more often than you used to. If you notice that you are drinking more than usual, or that your mouth often feels dry and you feel thirsty more often, these could be signs of type 2 diabetes.
Unexplained Weight Loss
When you have type 2 diabetes, your cells don’t get enough glucose, which may cause you to lose weight. Also, if you are urinating more frequently because of uncontrolled diabetes, you may lose more calories and water, resulting in weight loss, says Daniel Einhorn, MD, medical director of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Diego
People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, which means the body cannot use insulin properly to help the glucose get into the cells. In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work well in muscle, fat, and other tissues, so your pancreas [the organ that makes insulin] starts to put out a lot more of it to try and compensate. “This results in high insulin levels in the body,” says Fernando Ovalle, MD, director of the University of Alabama’s Multidisciplinary Diabetes Clinic in Birmingham. That insulin level sends signals to the brain that your body is hungry.
Foot Pain and Numbness
Over time, a prolonged exposure to high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body — a condition called diabetic neuropathy. Some people may not have any symptoms of the damage, while others may notice numbness, tingling, or pain in the extremities. “At the beginning, [diabetic neuropathy] usually starts in the feet and then it progresses upward,” says Dr. Ovalle. Although most common in people who have had type 2 diabetes for 25 years or more, it can occur in people who have prediabetes as well. In some studies, almost 50 percent of unexplained peripheral neuropathy [in the extremities], whether painful or otherwise, turns out to be caused by prediabetes or diabetes, says Dr. Einhorn.
Since both yeast and bacteria multiply more quickly when blood sugar levels are elevated, women with type 2 diabetes may be more susceptible to vaginal infections, says Einhorn. Foot infections are also common because diabetes can damage the architecture of the foot, including the skin, blood vessels, and nerves. However, Einhorn says, foot problems are usually seen more frequently in those with advanced diabetes.
The lens of the eye is a flexible membrane suspended by muscles, which change the shape of the lens to focus the eye. In a high-sugar environment such as with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, the lens’s ability to bend is altered. Although the lens is not damaged, the muscles of the eye have to work harder to focus. Blurred vision occurs when there are rapid changes in blood sugar (from low to high or high to low) and the eye muscles have not yet adapted to it, Einhorn says. Blurred vision is one of the early warning signs of type 2 diabetes. The body later adapts to the sugar levels, and your vision will go back to normal.