6 Silent Diabetes Symptoms You’re Missing
Many people don’t know they have the condition
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.
YOU’RE TAKING MORE TOILET BREAKS
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.
YOU’RE THIRSTIER THAN USUAL
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.
YOU’VE LOST A LITTLE WEIGHT
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.”
YOU FEEL SHAKY AND HUNGRY
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.”
YOU’RE TIRED ALL THE TIME
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.”
YOUR VISION SEEMS BLURRY
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.”