Approximately 463 million people globally are living with type 2 diabetes and by 2045, this is supposed to rise to 700 million. Type 2 diabetes is largely caused by insulin resistance (IR) while the cause of IR can range from any number of genetic deficiencies to environmental causes. It’s important to look at both of these factors when considering a type 2 diagnosis.
Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes but are often less pronounced since the condition progresses gradually over time. A startling statistic is that 1 out of 2 people will be misdiagnosed, leaving them susceptible to years of elevated blood sugars and the risk of complications that come along with the disease before being properly diagnosed and treated.
It is more important than ever to know the signs of type 2 diabetes so that a person can properly educate themselves in order to make better choices to improve their blood sugars and overall health. Routine blood tests at your yearly physical should help determine if you are experiencing issues that need medical attention.
Many of us are aware of the common symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. But since it may take years before a correct diagnosis, many say they were unable to detect the slow changes to their health. It is important to pay attention to these signs especially if you are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Some common symptoms to look out for are:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination. As sugar build-ups up in your blood, it forces your body to try to flush it out through increased urination.
- Increased hunger. Because your body is not absorbing sugar properly, it thinks it needs more creating you to become hungrier than normal.
- Weight loss. As your body can’t utilize sugar, it turns to muscle and fat for fuel, which can result in significant weight loss.
- Fatigue. Your body loses access to sugar which has been your main source of energy, therefore, leaving you feeling exhausted.
- Blurred vision. High blood sugars can cause swelling of your lens and damage blood vessels which can create vision issues.
- Slow to heal sores. High blood sugar can make your immune system not function as well as normally, causes wounds to heal more slowly.
Unusual Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
While many will have classic symptoms leading up to a type 2 diagnosis, some people have rare and unusual symptoms that occur. Here are some of the less common symptoms to look out for, as being vigilant can help add years to your life.
- Dark patches of skin. This condition is known as acanthosis nigricans (AN) and seems to occur mostly around the neck area or other areas where there are creases of skin such as the armpit or groin area. It is more common for people with darker skin and is a result of skin cells reproducing too quickly because of the excess of insulin in the blood.
- Yeast infections and jock itch. High levels of sugar in your blood can cause an overgrowth of yeast in the genital area, resulting in a fungal infection. Other fungal infections such as bladder infections and skin infections can also be indicators of diabetes.
- Itchy, bumpy, discolored skin. Eruptive xanthomatosis is a condition that can occur in people with poorly-managed blood sugars who have very high triglycerides and high cholesterol. It creates itchy, yellowish-colored bumps on the backs of the appendages and buttocks when blood sugars are elevated for a long period of time.
- Sexual dysfunction. This is seen mostly among men with type 2 diabetes who frequently have high blood sugars. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to nerve and blood vessel damage making it harder to achieve an erection. Women can also experience sexual issues related to high blood sugars, including arousal problems and less lubrication.
- Lightheadedness. We often assume that when we feel this way it must be because we are hungry or fatigued but this can also be a result of diabetes. Dizziness will often be a sign of low blood sugar, but long bouts of high blood sugar will lead to dehydration, affecting sodium and electrolyte levels, resulting in cognitive changes.
- Lack of sleep. There are quite a few reasons a looming type 2 diagnosis could cause you issues when it comes to getting sleep. If you have undetected high blood sugars, you are likely to get up a few times to urinate disrupting your rest. Additionally, being obese isn’t only a risk factor for diabetes, it increases your risk of sleep apnea as well. If you notice your sleep patterns are changing, it is important to talk to your doctor.
It isn’t always easy or possible to be attuned to all the changes in your health but being aware of the symptoms, both common and uncommon, can help you to detect any issues if they arise. The good news is that once a proper diagnosis is given, you can take control of your health and normalize your blood sugars which will make many of these symptoms disappear. Acting fast is key to ensuring no long term complications.
If you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, what symptoms did you have? And if you haven’t been diagnosed, but have reason to think you may, what symptoms are you experiencing? Share and comment below!