Type 2 diabetes mellitus, previously known as adult-onset diabetes, is recognizable by symptoms that resemble ordinary bodily responses to regular living conditions. Because the symptoms of diabetes often resemble normal bodily functions, it may sometimes be a challenge for patients to be aware of their condition without a diagnosis from a trained medical professional.
However, there are diabetes warning signs to look out for, and they are particularly telling when they occur in combination. If you believe you may have diabetes, heed the following signs of problems inside your body and get to know why they might occur.
One noticeable sign of type 2 diabetes is unusual thirst. This happens because glucose becomes super-concentrated in the bloodstream when you have diabetes and it becomes increasingly more difficult to absorb water into the bloodstream in a regular manner.
Normally, your body pulls almost all of the glucose from water and urine in your body and puts it back into your body where it is converted to energy. However, when there’s too much glucose in your body, your kidneys can no longer pull glucose out of the water you ingest. Osmotic pressure, or the pressure between dense and sparse liquids, begins to build. High osmotic pressure prevents water from being absorbed into the bloodstream, and may even begin to take water out of your blood. This pressure is a response to dehydration in which you feel the need to drink creep on gradually until it is overwhelming.
Frequent Urination with Urinary Tract Infections
While your kidneys are working double shifts to filter and absorb the extra sugar that can’t be extracted from your blood, whatever they miss is sent into your urine. Along the path to your bladder, the glucose desperately tries to grab other fluids from your tissues and brings them down with it. This creates the need for frequent urination that is also often a sign of diabetes.
When battling diabetes, your bladder fills more frequently, causing you to feel the need to urinate more. Since most of those fluids are being extracted rather than absorbed, you end up working your way toward dehydration. Even if you try to supplement your frequent urination with increased liquid intake, a lot of the new fluid simply drains into your bladder, further increasing the urgency to urinate.
Unusual Hunger, Even After Eating
Foods with a high glycemic index, including those high in carbohydrates, may exacerbate the already high levels of insulin circulating in your blood if you are battling diabetes. Without the ability to break down and absorb the amount of sugar that is entering your body, you may feel real hunger even right after you eat. It’s your body’s way of telling you that there’s something wrong.
A similar result comes from a lack of a hormone called incretin, which helps control blood sugar after a meal. The hormone reduces the flow of sugar from the liver after you eat, which increases your body’s natural insulin production when you eat and slows digestion. The body is unable to absorb the nutrients it needs from food and simply empties the stomach, leaving you feeling hungry. This unusual constant hunger is an important indicator that you may be experiencing other symptoms of type 2 diabetes as well.
Comparing normal to diabetic internal processes.
Though it’s hard to identify the mechanism that causes headaches in diabetics, we know at least that unusual blood sugar levels are partly to blame. Headaches are among the most common sources of pain for Americans, so it may be problematic to separate ordinary headaches like stress headaches from those that could be symptoms of diabetes.
Headaches caused by diabetes are secondary, which means that the pain signals sent to the head come from another source or series of sources than directly from the head. They occur frequently and are usually moderate to severe.
Unusual fatigue can be a sign of type 2 diabetes, as this condition hampers the body’s correct use of sugars. Sugars are a main contributing source of energy for humans. The body breaks down sugars in many different forms from the food we eat to help us move, breathe, talk, run, jump, or even lay down. Diabetes prevents sugars from being absorbed and distributed properly, so when your body doesn’t have energy, you become tired.
Dry mouth is another side effect of the dehydration caused by malabsorption of liquids. Since the diabetic’s metabolism is struggling to balance blood sugar and still absorb fluids, it frequently has trouble sending moisture to the mouth. The result is a constant dry mouth that you can’t quench by drinking liquids.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Weight loss from diabetes isn’t always the kind of weight we want to lose. When glucose stays at high levels for an extended period, it means that insulin is low, even if you’re supplementing your insulin. Without the insulin you need, the glucose remains in the blood, where cells are unable to access it for energy. The starving body looks to fat stores and muscle tissue to feed its energy needs, which can cause surprisingly rapid weight loss and trouble reaching a healthy weight.
One of the stranger symptoms of high blood sugar and diabetes is the swelling of the eyeball. Eyes are intended to work with precision, so when their size changes, so does their ability to perceive. The effect is temporary - when blood sugar returns to the target range, swelling subsides, and vision returns to normal.
When Should I Talk to a Doctor?
You should consult your physician any time you suspect that your body is behaving in an unusual manner or is exhibiting multiple symptoms of something as serious as diabetes. Getting regular checkups helps you stay on top of problems you may not know exist or smaller symptoms you may be dismissing. Be honest with your doctor and explain even minor symptoms you are feeling, as they may be early warning signs of serious conditions such as diabetes. For nearly any condition, early detection is key to successful treatment.