Insulin is a hormone that’s produced in the pancreas. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells do not correctly respond to insulin. Your pancreas then produces additional insulin as a response.
This causes your blood sugar to rise, which can cause diabetes. If not managed well, high levels of blood sugar can cause serious health problems including:
- kidney disease
- heart disease
- vision loss
Type 2 diabetes usually develops in people over age 45, but, in recent years, more young adults, teens, and children have been diagnosed with the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
Diabetes can cause serious health complications if it’s not regularly monitored and treated, but lifestyle changes can make a big difference in helping to manage your blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms develop slowly, sometimes over several years. You may have type 2 diabetes and not notice any symptoms for a long time.
That’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of diabetes and to have your blood sugar tested by a doctor.
Here are the nine most common signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- having to get up several times during the night to pee (urinate)
- being constantly thirsty
- losing weight unexpectedly
- always feeling hungry
- your vision is blurry
- you feel numbness or a tingling sensation in your hands or feet
- always feeling exhausted or overly tired
- have unusually dry skin
- any cuts, scrapes, or sores on the skin take a long time to heal
- you are more prone to infections
1. Skin conditions
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause an increased risk of bacterial and fungal skin infections.
Diabetes-related complications can cause one or more of the following skin symptoms:
- rashes, blisters, or boils
- styes on your eyelids
- inflamed hair follicles
- firm, yellow, pea-sized bumps
- thick, waxy skin
To lower your risk of skin conditions, follow your recommended diabetes treatment plan and practice good skincare. A good skincare routine includes:
- keeping your skin clean and moisturized
- routinely checking your skin for injuries
If you develop symptoms of a skin condition, make an appointment with your doctor.
2. Vision loss
Uncontrolled diabetes increases your chances of developing several eye conditions, including:
- glaucoma, which happens when pressure builds up in your eye
- cataracts, which occur when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy
- retinopathy, which develops when blood vessels in the back of your eye become damaged
Over time, these conditions can cause vision loss. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment can help you maintain your eyesight.
In addition to following your recommended diabetes treatment plan, make sure to schedule regular eye exams. If you notice changes in your vision, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
3. Nerve damage
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), about half of people with diabetes have nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy.
Several types of neuropathy can develop as a result of diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy can affect your feet and legs, as well as your hands and arms.
Potential symptoms include:
- burning, stabbing, or shooting pain
- increased or decreased sensitivity to touch or temperature
- loss of coordination
Autonomic neuropathy can affect your digestive system, bladder, genitals, and other organs. Potential symptoms include:
- loss of control of bladder or bowels
- frequent urinary tract infections
- erectile dysfunction
- vaginal dryness
- increased or reduced sweating
Other types of neuropathy can affect your:
To lower your risk of neuropathy, keep your blood glucose levels under control.
If you develop symptoms of neuropathy, make an appointment with your doctor. They might order tests to check your nerve function. They should also conduct regular foot exams to check for signs of neuropathy.
4. Kidney disease
High blood glucose levels increase the strain on your kidneys. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease. Early stage kidney disease usually causes no symptoms. However, late stage kidney disease can cause:
- fluid buildup
- loss of sleep
- loss of appetite
- upset stomach
- trouble concentrating
To help manage your risk of kidney disease, it’s important to keep your blood glucose and blood pressure levels under control. Some medications can help slow the progression of kidney disease.
You should also visit your doctor for regular checkups. Your doctor can check your urine and blood for signs of kidney damage.
5. Heart disease and stroke
In general, type 2 diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. However, the risk may be even higher if your condition isn’t managed. That’s because high blood glucose can damage your cardiovascular system.
People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than people who don’t have diabetes. They’re also one and a half times more likely to experience a stroke.
The warning signs of stroke include:
- numbness or weakness on one side of your body
- loss of balance or coordination
- difficulty talking
- vision changes
If you develop warning signs of a stroke or heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
The warning signs for a heart attack include:
- chest pressure or chest discomfort
- shortness of breath
To lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, it’s important to keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in check.
It’s also important to:
- eat a well-balanced diet
- get regular physical activity
- avoid smoking
- take medications as prescribed by your doctor
The tips below can help you manage type 2 diabetes:
- monitor your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels
- stop smoking, if you smoke, or do not start
- eat healthy meals
- eat low calorie meals if your doctor says you need to lose weight
- participate in daily physical activity
- be sure to take your prescribed medications
- work with your doctor to create a health plan to manage your diabetes
- seek diabetes education to learn more about managing your type 2 diabetes care, as Medicare and most health insurance plans cover accredited diabetes education programs
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be hard to spot, so it’s important to know your risk factors.
You may have a higher chance for developing type 2 diabetes if you:
- have overweight
- are age 45 or older
- have been diagnosed with prediabetes
- have a sibling or parent with type 2 diabetes
- do not exercise or aren’t physically active at least 3 times a week
- have had gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy)
- have given birth to an infant weighing over 9 pounds
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious health complications. These complications can potentially lower your quality of life and increase your chances of early death.
Fortunately, you can take steps to manage diabetes and lower your risk for complications.
A treatment plan may include lifestyle changes, such as a weight loss program or increased exercise.
Your doctor can provide advice about how to make these changes or a referral to other healthcare professionals, such as a dietician.
If you develop signs or symptoms of type 2 diabetes complications, make an appointment with your doctor. They might:
- order tests
- prescribe medications
- recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms
They might also recommend changes to your overall diabetes treatment plan.