Over 30 million Americans have type 2 diabetes — it’s one of the most common medical conditions in our country. Although being overweight and inactive are generally viewed as the causes behind this disease, people of all different ages, sizes, and races can develop type 2 diabetes.
Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Found Early?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects how well your body is able to metabolize sugar due to how much insulin your pancreas is able to produce or how well the cells inside your body respond to the insulin. Symptoms associated with this disease and its precursor, known as prediabetes, are often so mild at the beginning that 20 percent of people who have diabetes don’t know it. But over time, an unmanaged case of diabetes can lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, blindness, infections, kidney damage, and more.
If caught early enough or while it’s still prediabetes, the disease can, in some cases, be reversed, so it’s important to know some of the potential symptoms. These symptoms may be caused by something other than diabetes, but your doctor can order a blood test to find out for sure.
Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
- Wounds That Heal Slowly
One of the biggest complications many people with diabetes face is a chronic, non-healing wound as a result of the damage the disease does to blood vessels and nerves. Whereas most wounds would heal over time with proper treatment, diabetes can prevent some wounds from healing completely without specialized care. So if you have a cut or wound that just won’t go away after several weeks, it may be a warning sign that something is wrong.
- Frequent Urination
Depending on how much water you drink, how active you are, and what kinds of fluids you’re drinking, your urination frequency can vary from day to day. But if you’re noticing that you’re getting up to use the bathroom more often than you’re used to, especially at night, without any clear reason, it might be a result of your body trying to remove excess sugar from your blood.
- Dehydration and/or Excessive Thirst or Hunger
With increased urination often comes a greater need to replenish your body with water, and many people with diabetes will feel more thirsty because of the previous symptom. Increased hunger levels are also a warning sign for type 2 diabetes because the digestive system is having difficulty breaking down nutrients, particularly glucose, and fueling the body.
- Unexplained Fatigue
There are a lot of reasons why you might be feeling tired this time of year. 2020 has seen a rise in depression, and seasonal changes can also impact people’s moods and energy levels. If you’re finding that you’re getting more tired throughout the day than before, it could very well be caused by something else, but you shouldn’t rule out diabetes.
- Tingling or Pain in the Hands or Feet
Damage done to your blood vessels and nerves is one of the primary symptoms of type 2 diabetes, so it’s not uncommon for someone to experience tingling, numbness, or even pain in their extremities if they have this condition. This is known as peripheral neuropathy, and, left untreated, it can be especially dangerous.
What to Do if You Have These Symptoms?
The most important thing to remember is that all of these warning signs and other symptoms tied to diabetes can be caused by something other than diabetes, too, so it’s never a good idea to self-diagnose. Instead, we strongly recommend talking with your doctor to get a firm understanding of what’s really going on.
If you’ve found yourself with a type 2 diabetes or prediabetes diagnosis, don’t panic. It’s not a death sentence, and millions of Americans live happy, fulfilling lives with type 2 diabetes. UM Charles Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive diabetes education and endocrinology services designed to help people with new or existing diabetes diagnoses get answers to their questions and manage their diabetes. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist, call (301) 870-4100. To learn more about the Center for Diabetes Education, call (301) 609-5444.