Recognizing Symptoms

Type 2 diabetes symptoms occur when blood sugar (glucose) levels are abnormally high or when damaged is being done to tissues affected by high glucose levels. The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include thirst, frequent or increased urination, fatigue, and blurry vision. If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, see your health care provider for an evaluation. However, in some cases, symptoms may be so mild that you don't notice them or there may be no symptoms at all.

Frequent or Increased Urination

Frequent or increased urination may be a symptom of diabetes. Elevated glucose levels force fluids from your cells into the blood stream. This raises the amount of fluid delivered to the kidneys, which initially results in an increase in urine. The body tissues, however, end up dehydrated because so much water is lost in the urine.

Thirst

Frequent urination can cause dehydration, which makes you become thirsty. The increased thirst causes you to drink more liquids, which results in frequent urination, another common symptom of diabetes.

Weight Loss

Glucose is the body's main source of energy, but with diabetes, insulin delivery is impaired and your body is unable to utilize the glucose. Your body instead breaks down other energy sources, such as fat, which can result in weight loss. This is not a sustainable way to live because certain tissues in the body, like the brain, need glucose to survive and can only thrive a short time on the energy provided by fat.

Fatigue

Feeling worn-down is another common symptom of diabetes. Without the ability to use glucose, a prime source of energy for the body, you can become fatigued or feel exhausted.

Blurred Vision

High levels of glucose can cause eye complications including a swelling of the lens, which leads to blurry vision. Getting your blood sugar under control can help correct the vision problem over time, but, if left undetected, further complications can develop, including:

  • cataracts (clouding of the lens)
  • glaucoma (high pressure in the eye)
  • retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye)

Recurring Infection

Elevated levels of glucose may make it harder for your body to heal, so injuries like cuts and sores take much longer to heal. Because they are open to the environment for a longer time than normal, cuts are more likely to become infected.

Additionally, because the nerves are damaged in diabetes, people with severe type 2 diabetes are not able to feel if they step on something or cause an injury to their feet. As a result, they may have open wounds on the feet that become dangerously infected down to the bone. This is also true for infections of the bladder.

In people without diabetes, infection in the bladder is usually detected when a person complains of painful urination. When a diabetic has an infected bladder, he or she will often not have the sensation of pain with urination, so the infection remains untreated and can then cause dangerous infections all the way up into the kidneys.

Other Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Hypoglycemia

Diabetic hypoglycemia occurs when there are dangerously low levels of blood sugar. The condition is often associated with diabetes treatments themselves, such as when there is too much insulin and not enough sugar in the blood.

Symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia include:

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

Diabetic hypoglycemia can have serious consequences if left untreated including fainting, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Learn more about hypoglycemia.

Emergency Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

With type 2 diabetes, it is important to know the signs that warrant a visit to the emergency room. Call 911 or seek emergency medical assistance if symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, don't improve after eating or taking a glucose tablet, or if there is a seizure or a loss of conscious.