Type 2 diabetes affects an estimated 29.1 million Americans, of which 8.1 million are undiagnosed and unaware that they have the disease. Though increasing awareness of this disease means that more and more people understand the symptoms of diabetes, sometimes identifying the disease is not as easy as it seems.
As with many disorders and health conditions, symptoms appear gradually over time. They may disappear and reappear, making it difficult to understand whether or not they’re hinting at an underlying condition. This means that many people end up living with diabetes without even knowing it. However, just because symptoms aren’t serious enough to warrant seeking medical attention, it doesn’t mean that diabetes isn’t harming your health. The longer someone goes without seeking medical attention, the greater the risk they will suffer from complications of the disorder.
People who are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, including people who are overweight or obese, as well as those with a family history of the disorder, should get tested on a regular basis. It’s important to pay attention to subtle signs, too. The following may be indicators of a problem.
1. Going to the bathroom more frequently.
This can easily be mistaken as a symptom of old age. When you have diabetes, though, sugar accumulates in your bloodstream. As a last resort, your body starts flushing excess glucose out in the form of urine. You’ll end up feeling like you have to go to the bathroom more often than usual. A typical red flag is whether the feeling of having to urinate keeps you awake at night. If it happens frequently, it may be a symptom.
2. You feel thirsty often.
Going to the washroom more often leaves you feeling dehydrated. It’s common to reach for juice, or soda, or even chocolate milk to quench that feeling. But sugary drinks will only raise your blood sugar levels, causing you to feel like urinating all over again when your body can’t get rid of the excess.
3. You’ve lost some weight.
People who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, so why is losing weight a potential sign? The weight loss doesn’t actually come from losing excess calories. Instead, all the excess urination gets rid of water weight. In addition, your body is getting rid of some of the calories you take in through your urine. So, you’re not absorbing everything you take in.
4. You get the shakes when you’re hungry.
For people in the early stages of diabetes, it’s common to feel unsteady or shaky when hungry. When this happens, the majority of people end up reaching for carbs, which contain sugars, such as glucose. But diabetes is a problem that involves glucose regulation. If you have high blood sugar, your body will release too much of a peptide hormone protein, causing your glucose levels to drop suddenly. As a result, you feel unstable, and the instinct is to reach for carbohydrates, which ends up causing a vicious cycle.