Do you know the early warning signs of type 2 diabetes?

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Do you know the early warning signs of type 2 diabetes?

Very likely you know of someone with type 2 diabetes.  Over the past 30 years, diabetes has become an epidemic and the numbers are staggering – a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 30.3 million adults in the U.S. have diabetes. This same report also estimates that another 84.1 million U.S. adults have prediabetes.

But, would you know if you had diabetes?  How well do you know the signs and symptoms of this disease?  Like any chronic disease, type 2 diabetes can sneak up on people. When given the diagnosis, many people are surprised and dismayed having no idea of what was happening to them. Many are not aware of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Symptoms can be mild coming on very gradually during the early stages. Usually by the time a person is diagnosed with the disease, they’ve had it for many years. Many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be mistaken for and considered normal signs of aging rather than signs that blood sugar levels are out of control.

Having type 2 diabetes means your blood sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia), which can lead to developing serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage (neuropathy).

The earlier a person gets a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, the earlier they can better manage and control their diabetes reducing their risks of serious health complications. But to get an early diagnosis, it’s important to know the warning signs possibly indicating you may have the disease. The tricky part is that not everyone with type 2 diabetes necessarily will have symptoms - hyperglycemia feels different for everyone. Sometimes, symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes may not appear until prolonged hyperglycemia has been present. 

Here’s a look at early warning signs of the silent danger of type 2 diabetes.  Anyone noticing these possible signs and symptoms of diabetes should see their primary care physician as soon as possible for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment by beginning a diabetes management plan can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of severe complications.

·      Frequent urination

When blood sugar levels are too high, the kidneys try to remove the excess sugar by filtering it out of the blood. This can lead to a person needing to urinate more frequently, especially at night.

·      Increased thirst

The frequent urination that is necessary to remove excess sugar from the blood can result in the body losing additional water.  Over time, this can cause dehydration and lead to a person feeling more thirsty than usual.

·      Always feeling hungry

People with diabetes often do not get enough energy from the food they eat. The digestive system breaks food down into a simple sugar called glucose, which the body uses as fuel. In people with diabetes, not enough of this glucose moves from the bloodstream into the body’s cells  As a result, people with type 2 diabetes often feel constantly hungry, regardless of how recently they have eaten.

·      Feeling tired and fatigued

Type 2 diabetes can impact a person’s energy levels causing them to feel very tired or fatigued. This tiredness occurs as a result of insufficient sugar moving from the bloodstream into the body’s cells.

·      Blurry vision

An excess of sugar in the blood can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, which can cause blurry vision. This blurry vision can occur in one or both eyes and may come and go. If a person with diabetes goes without treatment, the damage to these blood vessels can become more severe, and permanent vision loss may eventually occur.  Oftentimes, a person sees their optometrist because of their blurry vision, and it’s the optometrist, suspecting diabetes, tells them to get tested for it.

·      Slow healing of cuts and wounds

High sugar levels in the blood can damage the body’s nerves and blood vessels, which can impair blood circulation. As a result, even small cuts and wounds, may take weeks or months to heal. Slow wound heling also increases the risk of infection.

·      Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands or feet

High blood sugar levels can affect blood circulation and damage the body’s nerves.  In people with type 2 diabetes, this can lead to pain or a sensation of tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. This condition is called neuropathy, and it can worsen over time leading to more serious complications if a person is not treated for their diabetes.

·      Patches of dark skin

Patches of dark skin forming on the creases of the neck, armpit, or groin can also signify a higher risk of diabetes. These patches may feel very soft and velvety and is a skin condition known as acanthosis nigricans.

·      Itching and yeast infections

Excess sugar in the blood and urine provides food for yeast, which can lead to infection.  Yeast infections tend to occur on warm, moist areas of the skin, such as the mouth, genital areas, and armpits. The affect areas are usually itchy, but a person may also experience burning, redness, and soreness.