More than 30 million American adults have diabetes, but scarily, 25% of them don’t know they have it. Signs of type 2 diabetes are often subtle and may mimic symptoms of other not-so-serious conditions. “Patients with type 2 diabetes often don’t have any symptoms, especially if their blood sugars are not that high,” says Sonal Chaudhry, MD, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
“Sometimes a patient can come in and they have no symptoms at all, but just with routine blood work you find out that they do have diabetes,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, an internist in New York City. “Other times they will come in and they will express that [they’re] having the symptoms of increased thirst or increased urination, and those are key signs that you have to think about to figure out whether this patient may or may not have diabetes.”
Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body produces insulin, but it doesn’t use it very well (unlike type 1 diabetes, where the body doesn’t make insulin), says Minisha Sood, MD, an endocrinologist in New York City. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps move blood glucose from the bloodstream to cells for energy, according to Dr. Chaudhry. When the body does not have enough insulin, excess glucose remains in the bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia. Learn more about the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
Everyone experiences bouts of high or low blood sugar from time to time, but most people’s bodies can stabilize and return back to normal. For those with diabetes, however, their bodies are unable to stabilize their blood sugar, which can cause certain symptoms. “Most of the time when people come to medical attention they just feel a little bit off,” says Dr. Sood. Knowing the telltale signs can help you catch diabetes early and get the proper treatment to manage type 2 diabetes.
Patients with type 2 diabetes might notice these classic symptoms:
If you notice any of these type 2 diabetes symptoms, see a doctor ASAP so you can get screened for type 2 diabetes.
Also important: Pay attention to your diabetes risk factors. “Patients who have risk factors for diabetes should be tested earlier and more frequently to make sure that they haven’t developed type 2 diabetes,” says Sonal Chaudhry, MD, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
Even if you aren’t showing type 2 diabetes symptoms, it’s wise to get screened regularly. “The American diabetes association recommends that all patients over the age of 45 are screened for type 2 diabetes, and if that screening is normal then they should be screened at least every 3 years for diabetes,” says Dr. Chaudhry.