Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may change some aspects of your life and how you eat, but it is a condition you can manage. However, not knowing you have type 2 diabetes - and, thus, not managing it - can lead to serious health issues.
"One of the most telltale signs that you have diabetes is a higher-than-normal level of glucose - a type of sugar - in your blood," said Mary Johnson, director of Diabetes Quality and Education at Geisinger Health System. "Before you get to that point, there are warning signs that can prompt you to get the test to confirm."
These are warning signs you may have diabetes.
You feel more hungry and tired than usual
When you eat, your body converts the food into glucose, which cells use for energy. But, in order for your cells to bring glucose in for energy, they need insulin.
"If your body isn't making enough insulin - or any at all - or your cells resist your insulin, glucose can't get into the cells," Johnson said. "The means you won't have energy and you can feel more tired and more hungry than usual."
You may urinate more often and feel thirsty
People with diabetes tend to urinate a lot more than the average person - who normally urinates four to seven times in 24 hours.
For someone who doesn't have diabetes, the body reabsorbs glucose as it passes through the kidneys. But that's not the case for people with diabetes.
"When diabetes raises your blood sugar, your body may not be able to bring all of the glucose back in when it passes through your kidneys. Instead, your body will try to get rid of the excess by making more urine," Johnson explained.
Naturally, if your body is making more urine, you're going to have to urinate more often. But, because it takes fluids to produce urine and you're peeing so much more often, you'll get very thirsty. And the more you drink, the more you'll have to pee.
You may have a dry mouth and itchy skin
Since your body is using fluids to produce more urine than usual, there's less moisture for other things - like your mouth and skin.
"You're at risk of getting dehydrated and your mouth will most likely feel dry," Johnson said.
You may experience blurred vision
The vicious cycle of producing excess urine and being thirsty also has an effect on your vision.
"When your body's fluid levels are changing, they could make the lenses in your eyes swell up, potentially causing them to change shape and lose the ability to focus," Johnson said.
If you're experiencing all of these symptoms and you're older than 45 and have other risk factors for diabetes, it's important to get tested for the condition.
"Identifying you have diabetes early is key to avoiding nerve damage, heart issues and other complications that untreated diabetes can lead to," Johnson said.
Call your doctor if you:
- Are urinating a lot
- Have a bad stomach ache
- Feel sick to your stomach, weak and very thirsty
- Have sweet breath that smells like nail polish remover
- Are breathing more deeply and faster than normal