11 Warning Signs You Might Have Type 2 Diabetes

by David Mendosa Patient Advocate

You might not have any symptoms of type 2 diabetes when you get it. In fact, researchers think that the average person already has it for 10 years when a doctor diagnoses it. This type of diabetes often develops slowly. I didn’t have any symptoms, but the fact that I was way overweight should have given me the warning so that I could start to manage the disease.

Unusual thirst

Are you thirsty a lot of the time? Having diabetes means that sugar builds up in your bloodstream causing fluid to be pulled from your body. As a result you will probably be more thirsty than normal.

Frequent urination

Having to pee a lot is another of the most common warning signs that you may have type 2 diabetes. You may notice this more at night when it interrupts your sleep. This is connected of course with being more thirsty and therefore drinking more. What goes in must come out.

Blurred vision

When you get diabetes, the sugar in your blood gets too high. This can pull fluid from the lenses of your eyes making it harder for your eyes to focus. Blurred vision seems to be the third most common warning sign that you have diabetes.

Sores that heal slowly or not at all

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to heal. This can happen because all that sugar in our bloodstream damages our blood vessels. Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes -- and at the same time the most dangerous -- can hurt your feet. Because of your diabetes, you may not even feel the sores until it’s too late.

Frequent infections

As we age, there is a general decline in our immune systems called “immunosenescence.” But when you get diabetes, you can be even more likely to get infections because this disease impairs your immune cells, making it even harder for your body to fight infections.

Yeast infections

One of the most common infections that people with diabetes get is yeast, or candida. Both fungi and bacteria thrive because of all the sugar tied up in our bloodstream. Women are particularly susceptible to this type of infection.

More hunger

When you get type 2 diabetes, much of the sugar that your body makes stays in your bloodstream. It doesn’t get in your cells where you need it. So your muscles and your internal organs don’t have enough energy. That can make you awfully hungry.

Losing weight

Most people with diagnosed or undiagnosed type 2 diabetes weigh too much. But some people actually lose weight before someone diagnoses their diabetes. It’s not a healthy way to lose weight because it can damage your kidneys. It can happen even when you eat more than you normally do. When you aren’t able to metabolize sugar well, your body has to use alternative fuels stored in your muscles and fat.

Greater fatigue

When you are getting diabetes, you can feel more tired than usual. That’s because the cells of your body aren’t getting the sugar they need. The solution certainly isn’t to eat more sugar, which only makes it worse, because that sugar will also stay in the bloodstream.

Patches of skin that get dark

A common symptom of type 2 diabetes is a condition called acanthosis nigricans. Some of your skin may turn brown or black and may look and feel velvety. It usually shows up in the armpits and neck and can be a result of the insulin resistance that is associated with type 2 diabetes.

Other skin problems

Your skin may feel itchy or it may tingle. Even worse, you may not be able to feel it at all. Your feet or hands may have burning pain and swell up. These are signs that your diabetes has already begun to damage the nerves of your body. The good news is that with early and appropriate treatment you may be able to reverse every one of these symptoms.

David Mendosa
Meet Our Writer
David Mendosa

David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.