Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms Develop Gradually with Type 2 Diabetes
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes (also called type 2 diabetes mellitus) develop gradually—so gradually, in fact, that it’s possible to miss them or to not connect them as related symptoms. Some people are actually surprised when they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because they’ve gone to the doctor for something else (eg, fatigue or increased urination).
The symptoms develop gradually because, if you have the insulin resistant form of type 2, it takes time for the effects of insulin resistance to show up. Your body doesn’t become insulin resistant (unable to use insulin properly) overnight, as you can learn about in the article on causes of type 2 diabetes
If you’re not insulin resistant—and instead your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process glucose well—the symptoms also develop gradually. Your body will be able to “make do” with lower insulin levels for awhile, but eventually, you will start to notice the following symptoms.
Here are some of the common symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- Fatigue: Your body isn’t getting the energy it needs from the food you’re eating, so you may feel very tired.
- Extreme thirst: No matter how much you drink, it feels like you’re still dehydrated. Your tissues (such as your muscles) are, in fact, dehydrated when there’s too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. Your body pulls fluid from the tissues to try to dilute the blood and counteract the high glucose, so your tissues will be dehydrated and send the message that you need to drink more. This is also associated with increased urination.
- Frequent urination: This is related to drinking so much more in an attempt to satisfy your thirst. Since you’re drinking more, you’ll have to urinate more. Additionally, the body will try to get rid of the excess glucose through urination.
- Extreme hunger: Even after you eat, you may still feel very hungry. That’s because your muscles aren’t getting the energy they need from the food; your body’s insulin resistance keeps glucose from entering the muscle and providing energy. Therefore, the muscles and other tissues send a “hunger” message, trying to get more energy into the body.
- Weight loss: You may be eating more but still losing weight. Since your body isn’t getting energy from food, it turns to muscles and fat and starts to break them down in order to create energy. That will cause you to lose weight.
- Infections: The effects of type 2 diabetes make it harder for your body to fight off an infection, so you may experience frequent infections. Women may have frequent vaginal (yeast) and/or bladder infections. That’s because bacteria can flourish when there are high levels of glucose in the blood.
- Slow wound healing: Similar to the body’s inability to fight off infections, it might take longer for wounds (even small cuts) to heal. The high blood glucose level affects how well the white blood cells (which are in charge of healing wounds) work.
- Blurry vision: In an attempt to get more fluid into the blood to counteract the high blood glucose level, your body may pull fluid from the eyes. You may have trouble focusing then, leading to blurry vision.
These are some of the more common symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes, but you may not experience all of them. If you’re concerned about your health and think you may have diabetes, make an appointment with your doctor to be tested.
- American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2009. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:S13-61.
- Becker G. Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the newly Diagnosed. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company; 2007.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. January 30, 2009. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~n0K0MIfI1iZs.&selectedTitle=5~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. December 4, 2008. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~X0jjLnBn4._ko&selectedTitle=4~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.