Type 2 diabetes can affect all people, regardless of age. Early symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be missed, so those affected may not even know they have the condition. An estimated one out of every three people within the early stages of type 2 diabetes are not aware they have it. A common misconception is that to have type 2 diabetes one must appear clinically obese. Although it is true that the majority of people with type 2 diabetes people have excess weight, often they may not appear obese or of major medical concern. Since there is no standard definition for “healthy looking”, they may not look extremely overweight, but any excess weight, especially around the stomach, is a risk factor. Age is huge risk factor as well, since the older we get the more at risk we are for developing type 2 diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates for energy, leading to high levels of blood sugar. These chronically high blood sugar levels increase a person’s risk of developing serious health problems. If you have excess weight around the middle, it is important to see a provider and get your blood sugar tested – even if you don’t associate with being “unhealthy” and you feel okay. Type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening. However, if treated carefully, it can be managed or even REVERSED. The key is to catch it as early as possible and start managing it with lifestyle modifications and medication.
What are the complications?
There are many dangerous potential consequences of high blood sugar, and often the issue goes unregulated for many years before the patient is seen by a provider or has their blood sugar tested. Many times, these consequences listed below begin before a patient is ever officially diagnosed.
- Nerve problems
- Vision loss
- Joint deformities
- Cardiovascular disease
- Diabetic coma (life-threatening)
- Other diabetes complications listed below
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms (just a few):
When there is excess sugar present in the blood, as with type 2 diabetes, the kidneys react by flushing it out of the blood and into the urine. The result is more urine production (and the need to urinate more frequently!) as well as an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men and women. People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to get a UTI as people without the disease, and the risk is higher in women than in men.
If you notice you have to go to the bathroom more often than you used to — including perhaps needing to get up every couple of hours during the night to urinate — and you seem to be producing more urine when you do go, talk to your doctor about whether you could have type 2 diabetes.
Although people with type 2 diabetes may not have specific or obvious symptoms, an increase in thirst is one symptom that is characteristic of the condition.
The thirst comes from the frequent urination which causes you to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. Consequently, you develop a dry mouth and feel thirsty more often. If you notice that you are drinking more than usual, or that your mouth often feels dry and you feel thirsty more often, these could be signs of type 2 diabetes. Many other medications also cause dry mouth and can raise your blood sugar levels. If you are noticing you are thirstier than usual it is a good idea to detect the cause.
Being Hungry – ALL THE TIME!
People with type 2 diabetes (diagnosed, or who have it but haven’t been officially diagnosed) have what is called “insulin resistance”, which means the body cannot use insulin properly to help glucose get into the cells.
The fact is you can’t “feel” insulin resistance, it is a process happening at the cellular level – similar to the fact that you can’t “feel” that you have high blood pressure without actually taking your blood pressure and looking at the numbers, because it is measuring the pressure of blood against your arteries. This is very different than catching the flu, felling your pulse and knowing your heart is beating fast, or knowing you are gaining weight by seeing your body change in the mirror. There are certain health problems that can occur in the body, of which we do not feel the physical effects until many years later – when our organs and tissues are affected by the damage.
In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work well in muscle, fat, and other tissues, so your pancreas (the organ that makes insulin) starts to secrete much more of it to compensate. This insulin level sends signals to the brain that your body is hungry.
The lens of the eye is a flexible membrane suspended by muscles that change the shape of the lens to focus the eye. In a high-sugar environment, such as with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes, the lens’s ability to bend is altered. Although the lens is not damaged, the muscles of the eye have to work harder to focus.
Blurred vision occurs when there are rapid changes in blood sugar — from low to high or high to low — to which the eye muscles have not yet adapted. This is one of the early warning signs of type 2 diabetes. The body later adapts to the sugar levels, and your vision will go back to normal (at least for a little while).
Frequent UTI’s & Infections
Both yeast and bacteria proliferate more quickly when blood sugar levels are elevated. Women with diabetes or prediabetes will experience, and are at greater risk of, feminine health issues like such as bacterial infections, yeast infections, and vaginal thrush – especially when blood sugar isn’t well controlled. Plus, a lack of awareness about having prediabetes or diabetes can make managing blood sugar impossible.
Problems with Your Feet- Pain, Numbness, Tingling
Over time, a prolonged exposure to high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body — a condition called “diabetic neuropathy”. Some people may not experience symptoms of the damage, while others may notice numbness, tingling, or pain in the extremities. It is most common in people who have had type 2 diabetes for 25 years or more, and it can occur in people who have prediabetes as well.