Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans, and unfortunately many of them don’t know they have it. However, there are symptoms that you can look for. If you see these type 2 diabetes symptoms, you must contact your doctor to find out if you need treatment. Early detection is very important, so that you can avoid serious complications that may arise from high levels of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Let’s look at what diabetes is, and how it affects your body to cause the symptoms you should look for.
So what is diabetes? Having this disease basically means that your body is either not making or not responding to insulin correctly. Insulin is the key that unlocks a cell so that it can use sugar (glucose) for energy. If glucose doesn’t go into the cell it stays in the bloodstream and then you will have a high blood sugar level. This is called “hyperglycemia”. When you have high levels of sugar or insulin in your bloodstream for too long, it can cause damage to your blood vessels, nerves, and organs.
Imagine this analogy – think about kids in the hallways of school, waiting for the bell to ring to get to class. Now think of the school as your body, the classrooms as your cells, the hallways as your blood vessels, the doors to the classrooms as the insulin receptors, the key to classroom doors as insulin, and the kids as the sugar. If there are not enough doors open or not enough keys to unlock the doors, the kids won’t go into the classrooms. For the sake of this analogy, when too many kids are running freely through the halls they vandalize and damage the inside of the school, and the damage will continue until the doors are unlocked and open. This is roughly what high blood sugar levels do to the blood vessels and organs of the body, causing internal damage that will increase as long as the insulin system isn’t working. This is why early detection and treatment are important.
Once the insulin and the insulin receptors become dysfunctional other glands, organs and systems in the body must compensate. There are many parts of the body that help to control and maintain proper blood glucose levels. Once you lose function of these organs and systems then symptoms start to develop.
After the damage gets to a certain point, the body will show type 2 diabetes symptoms that you will notice. The first of these is increased urination and increased thirst. This is because blood with more sugar in it will pull water out of the surrounding tissues and into the bloodstream, which will make the kidneys have to process and excrete more fluid. Since you are now losing more water than normal, you will be very thirsty. You are drinking more because you’re urinating more, not the other way around. If you are constantly and unusually thirsty even though you are drinking a lot of water, and you are urinating a lot, you should get your blood sugar checked immediately! These are usually the first type 2 diabetes symptoms that are noticeable.
Extreme hunger, fatigue, irritability, and unusual weight loss are also early symptoms. This is because the body is not getting glucose into the cells where it is needed for energy, and you will feel tired and hungry even though you have eaten. Another type 2 diabetes symptom is blurred vision, because the lens of the eye will swell causing a change in your ability to see. As the body becomes more insulin resistant, you may also notice that you start to gain weight. Your body begins to package the excess glucose as fat. That is when you notice the belly fat!
Though not as sudden, other type 2 diabetes symptoms to watch out for are cuts and bruises that heal slowly, frequent infections, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. These serious symptoms are the result of your blood sugar “spiking”, which causes the proteins in your cells to be damaged and act abnormally. Your nerves will be affected from these spikes, especially if they are frequent, causing tingling and numbness. Also, your white blood cells will not be able to work properly, which makes wounds heal more slowly and infections to take hold in your body that would otherwise be eliminated by your immune system.
All of these type 2 diabetes symptoms may not be experienced together. However, if you are noticing that on top of increased thirst and urination you are starting to experience any one of the other symptoms, the disease is getting worse. There is absolutely no benefit in “waiting and seeing” if your symptoms will go away! You may be allowing irreparable and possibly fatal damage to occur inside your body by not lowering your blood sugar. If you have diabetes, something must be done to treat it.
For more information on type 2 diabetes click here.