Recognizing Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on July 29, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Patricia Geraghty MSN, WHNP, FNP-BC on July 29, 2014

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that can cause blood sugar (glucose) to be higher than normal. Many people do not feel symptoms with type 2 diabetes. However, there are some common symptoms that it is important to be aware of.  Most symptoms of type 2 diabetes occur when blood sugar levels are abnormally high.

The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • excessive thirst
  • frequent or increased urination, especially at night
  • excessive hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurry vision
  • sores or cuts that won’t heal

If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, talk to your doctor.  They may recommend that you be tested for diabetes, which is performed with a basic blood draw. Routine diabetes screening normally starts at age 45. However, it might start earlier if you are:

  • overweight
  • sedentary
  • affected by high blood pressure, now or when you were pregnant
  • from a family with a history of type 2 diabetes
  • from an ethnic background that has a higher risk of type 2 diabetes
  • at higher risk due to high blood pressure, low good cholesterol levels, or high triglyceride levels

Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

If you have diabetes, it can help to understand how your blood sugar levels affect the way you feel. Most common symptoms of diabetes are caused by elevated glucose levels.

Frequent or Increased Urination

Elevated glucose levels force fluids from your cells. This increases the amount of fluid delivered to the kidneys. This makes you need to urinate more. It may also eventually make you dehydrated.

Thirst

As your tissues become dehydrated, you will become thirsty. Increased thirst is another common diabetes symptom. The more you urinate, the more you need to drink, and vice versa. 

Fatigue

Feeling worn down is another common symptom of diabetes. Glucose is normally one of the body’s main sources of energy. When cells cannot absorb sugar,  you can become fatigued or feel exhausted.

Blurred Vision

In the short term, high glucose levels can cause a swelling of the lens in the eye. This leads to blurry vision. Getting your blood sugar under control can help correct vision problems. If blood sugar levels remain high for a long time, other eye problems can occur.

Recurring Infections and Sores

Elevated glucose levels may make it harder for your body to heal. Therefore, injuries like cuts and sores stay open longer. This makes them more susceptible to infection.

Sometimes, people don’t notice that they have high blood sugar levels because they don’t feel any symptoms.  High blood sugars can lead to long term problems, such as a higher risk for heart disease, foot problems, nerve damage, eye diseases, and kidney disease.  People with diabetes are also at risk for serious bladder infections. In people without diabetes, bladder infections are usually painful. However, diabetics may not have that sensation of pain with urination. The infection may not be detected until it has spread to the kidneys.

Emergency Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

As stated, high blood sugar causes long-term damage to the body. However, low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia,  can be a medical emergency. Hypoglycemia occurs when there are dangerously low levels of blood sugar. For people with type 2 diabetes, only those people who are on medications that increase the body’s insulin levels are at risk for low blood sugar. 

 Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • shaking
  • dizziness
  • hunger
  • headache
  • sweating
  • trouble thinking
  • irritability or moodiness
  • rapid heartbeat

If you are on medicines that incease the amount of insulin in your body, be sure you know how to treat low blood sugar.

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