6 Silent Di­a­betes Symp­toms You’re Miss­ing

Many peo­ple don’t know they have the con­di­tion

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - BY LAU­REN GELMAN

TYPE 2 DI­A­BETES has plenty of early warn­ing signs, but they’re sub­tle enough that you might not no­tice.

“It’s not like you wake up one day and all of a sud­den you’re thirsty, hun­gry, and [go­ing to the toi­let] all the time,” says Melissa Joy Dob­bins, a cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor. “It picks up grad­u­ally.” In­deed, “most peo­ple are un­aware that they have type 2 di­a­betes in its early or even mid­dle phases,” says Dr Aaron Cypess, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of medicine at Har­vard Med­i­cal School.

“We rec­om­mend that peo­ple with risk fac­tors, such as a fam­ily his­tory or be­ing over­weight, get eval­u­ated on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Cypess adds.

If you’ve been feel­ing off, talk to your doc­tor about get­ting a sim­ple blood test that can di­ag­nose type 2 di­a­betes. And pay at­ten­tion to th­ese sub­tle symp­toms and signs.


When you have type 2 di­a­betes, your body be­comes less ef­fi­cient at break­ing food down into glu­cose, so you have more glu­cose sit­ting in your blood­stream, says Dob­bins. “Your body gets rid of it by flush­ing it out in the urine.” So go­ing to the toi­let a lot could be one of the type 2 di­a­betes symp­toms you’re miss­ing. One red flag is whether the need to uri­nate keeps you up at night. Once or twice might be nor­mal, but if it’s af­fect­ing your abil­ity to sleep, that could be a type 2 di­a­betes symptom.


An­other one of the com­mon type 2 di­a­betes symp­toms Dob­bins sees with pa­tients is that they use drinks such as fruit juice or sweet fizzy drinks to quench their thirst. Th­ese sug­ary bev­er­ages then pack the blood­stream with ex­cess glu­cose, which can lead to the prob­lem all over again. In­stead of drinks with sugar, dis­ci­pline your­self to drink more wa­ter.


Con­sid­er­ing that be­ing over­weight is a risk fac­tor for type 2 di­a­betes, it sounds coun­ter­in­tu­itive that shed­ding ki­los could be one of the silent symp­toms. “Weight loss comes from two things,” says Cypess. “One, from the wa­ter that you lose [from uri­nat­ing]. Two, you lose some kilo­joules in the urine and you don’t ab­sorb all the kilo­joules from the [glu­cose] in your blood.”


It’s not un­com­mon for type 2 di­a­betes suf­fer­ers to sud­denly feel un­steady and im­me­di­ately need to reach for carbs, says Mar­jorie Cy­press, a nurse prac­ti­tioner at an en­docrinol­ogy clinic. “When you have high blood sugar, your body has a prob­lem reg­u­lat­ing its glu­cose,” she ex­plains. “If you’ve eaten some­thing high in car­bo­hy­drates, your body shoots out a lit­tle too much in­sulin, and your glu­cose drops quickly. This makes you feel shaky, and you tend to crave carbs or – which can lead to a vi­cious cy­cle.”


On­go­ing fa­tigue is an im­por­tant symptom to pay at­ten­tion to; it might mean the food you’re eat­ing for en­ergy isn’t be­ing bro­ken down and used by cells as it’s sup­posed to. “You’re not get­ting the fuel your body needs,” says Dob­bins. “You’re go­ing to be tired and feel slug­gish.”


In the early stages of type 2 di­a­betes, the eye lens is not fo­cus­ing well be­cause glu­cose builds up in the eye, which tem­po­rar­ily changes its shape. “You’re not go­ing blind from di­a­betes,” Cypess says he as­sures pa­tients. In about six to eight weeks af­ter your blood glu­cose is sta­bilised, he says, “you’re not go­ing to feel it any­more; the eye will ad­just.”

“You’re not get­ting the fuel your body needs. You’re go­ing to be tired and feel slug­gish.”

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