Despite being a common and relatively well understood condition, detecting type 2 diabetes early in its development is not always easy. Because the onset can be gradual, early symptoms are often mild, causing many type 2 diabetics to remain unaware of their condition until it begins to negatively impact their health.
Though diabetes has the potential to cause many complications throughout one’s life, early detection and treatment can drastically reduce the risk of complications and can improve a person’s quality of life. Accordingly, it is important to be aware of some of the telltale indicators that may help you and your doctor identify your type 2 diabetes status as early as possible.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
This list contains some such possible early symptoms, but keep in mind that every presentation of type 2 diabetes is different, and not every individual will experience these, or indeed any, early symptoms. Always discuss any concerns about your health with your doctor.
1. Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination
If you notice yourself urinating more frequently and craving a beverage all the time, type 2 diabetes may be the culprit. This is because type 2 diabetes often causes elevated blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels increase the body tries to remove the excess blood sugar by filtering it out in the kidneys and passing it out in your urine. In order to flush out this excess glucose, the body must also pass other fluids from the body. This depletion of bodily fluids can lead to dehydration and thirst.
2. Fatigue and Weakness
One way to stay vigilant about type 2 diabetes is to take careful note of your energy levels throughout the day. Experiencing greater fatigue or weakness than you usually experience may be a sign of type 2 diabetes, because high blood sugar levels caused by the condition can interfere with the body’s ability to use and store energy. When insulin resistance limits the ability of your cells to import fuel (glucose) from the bloodstream, the resulting energy shortage can leave you much less able to meet the demands of the day without feeling exhausted.
Conversely, high blood sugar levels can cause the body to produce excessive insulin, which can lead to an overcompensation and a drop in blood sugar levels below a normal range. Low blood sugar can cause weakness, fatigue, shakiness, and confusion. Whether due to hyper- or hypo-glycemia, type 2 diabetes can do a number on your body’s energy regulating abilities, leaving you in an energy deficit.
3. Blurred Vision
If you notice that your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, diabetes is probably not the first culprit you’d think of. However, elevated blood sugar levels caused by type 2 diabetes can cause fluid to collect in your macula, which plays an important role in focusing your eyes. When enough fluid collects, the delicate shape of the structures in your eyes can be warped and distorted, making it difficult to focus.
In addition, the high blood sugar levels caused by type 2 diabetes may damage the small blood vessels that supply the eyes, leading to poor circulation and decreased oxygen supply. This process is called diabetic retinopathy, and can damage the retina, the part of the eye that processes images. This damage can cause vision changes such as blurriness, floaters, and can even progress to permanent blindness. To minimize long term impairment of your vision, it is crucial to begin treating these conditions immediately.
4. Slow Wound Healing
You may notice wounds on your body healing slower than you would expect. This symptom may occur in type 2 diabetics for several reasons. For one, elevated blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the wound. This can cause poor circulation and decreased oxygen supply to the wound, slowing the healing process.
High blood sugar levels may also damage the immune system and collagen production. A weaker immune system has greater difficulty fighting off infections, which can yield a slower healing process. Diabetes can also reduce the production of collagen, a protein that helps wounds heal. The combined impacts of these type 2 diabetes symptoms can lead to a noticeable delay in wound healing.