Because type 2 diabetes can lead to some serious health complications, it's important to be aware of any diabetes warning signs and get tested for diabetes, if you have these symptoms. Treating diabetes early, when treatment is most effective, can help prevent these diabetes complications.
We'll explain the various diabetes warning signs and also warning signs of specific diabetes problems. Discover why it's important to listen to your body and alert your doctor if you notice any new signs or problems.
Warning Signs of Diabetes
Sometimes type 2 diabetes can develop without any warnings signs. In fact, about a third of all people who have type 2 diabetes don't know they have it. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes and determined if you should be tested.
Common warnings signs of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger (especially after eating)
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination or urine infections
- Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
- Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
- Blurred vision
- Diabetic coma (loss of consciousness)
If you have any of the above mentioned warnings signs of diabetes, give your doctor a call and schedule a diabetes test. With the right diabetes diet, regular exercise, and medications, if needed, you can manage type 2 diabetes and live an active, productive life.
If you have symptoms of the following diabetes complications, it's important to seek immediate medical attention. Each brief discussion links to more in-depth information.
Hypoglycemia and Diabetes
As you'll learn in this health topic, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when the level of sugar or glucose in the blood drops too low to fuel the body. Hypoglycemia is not a disease but a condition that results from a variety of causes.
Hypoglycemia is most commonly a complication of diabetes treatment (diabetic hypoglycemia). You can develop hypoglycemia by taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications or by delaying a meal. Hypoglycemia can also be the result of some medications, other diseases, or too much activity.
We'll explain more about some warning signs of hypoglycemia in this health topic, including nausea, a jittery or nervous feeling, a rapid heartbeat, mood changes, blurred vision, and difficulty walking. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and coma and may be fatal.
For more, please read the Hypoglycemia article.
Hyperglycemia and Diabetes
In this health topic, we explain the dangers of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, and diabetes. Hyperglycemia causes many of the warning signs of diabetes listed above. Hyperglycemia may be caused by skipping or forgetting your insulin or oral glucose-lowering medicine, eating too many grams of carbs for the amount of insulin administered, simply eating too many grams of carbs in general, or from stress or infections.
For more, please read the Hyperglycemia article.
Diabetic Coma in Type 2 Diabetes
In this health topic, we discuss hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS), an extremely serious complication that can lead to diabetic coma and even death in type 2 diabetes. This serious condition occurs when the blood glucose gets too high and the body becomes severely dehydrated. To prevent HHNS and diabetic coma in type 2 diabetes, check your blood glucose regularly as recommended by your health care provider; when you are sick, check your blood glucose more frequently, drink plenty of fluids, and watch for signs of dehydration.
Other Warning Signs of Diabetes Complications
Other warning signs of type 2 diabetes' complications may include:
- Slow-healing sores or cuts
- Itching of the skin (usually around the vaginal or groin area)
- Frequent yeast infections
- Recent weight gain
- Velvety dark skin changes of the neck, armpit and groin, called acanthosis nigricans
- Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet
- Decreased vision
If you have any of these diabetes warning signs, contact your health care provider right away so you can have a diabetes test. Even people with pre-diabetes can have the increased risk from heart disease seen in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
For more, please read the Diabetes Prevention article.
SOURCES: American Diabetes Association: "Diabetes Symptoms." Endocrinology Practice, 2003; vol 10: pp 77.
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 30, 2007