Close up of person checking blood sugar
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You Don't Check Your Blood Sugar

People with type 2 diabetes can often keep their blood sugar levels under control with diet, exercise, and medicine. But unless you check your blood sugar level every day with a meter, you won't have the most accurate results. Any person with diabetes can benefit from checking their blood sugar. And when you track your results in a log, your doctor can tell how well you're responding to your treatment plan over time.

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Woman in restaurant drinking water
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You're Thirsty, and You Have to Go

Thirst and frequent urination are two classic diabetes signs caused by too much sugar in your blood. As your kidneys work harder to filter out the sugar, they also pull more fluids from your tissues, which is why you have to go to the bathroom more often than usual. Thirst is your body's way of telling you it needs to replenish the liquids it's losing. If you don't drink more fluids, you can dehydrate.

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Young woman experiencing fatigue
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You're Wiped Out

Fatigue is another signal that your blood sugar isn't under control. When sugar is staying in your bloodstream instead of being diverted to your body's cells, your muscles don't get enough fuel to use for energy. You might feel only a little tired, or your fatigue might be so bad that you need a nap. Sometimes people with diabetes feel especially tired after eating a big meal.

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Woman experiencing dizziness
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The Room Is Spinning

Feeling dizzy or shaky can be a sign of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Because your brain needs glucose to function, a drop in blood sugar can be dangerous -- even life-threatening -- if you don't address it. A glass of fruit juice can bring up your blood sugar in the short term. But if you're regularly feeling shaky, talk to your doctor. You may need to adjust your medications or diet.

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Mature man taking medications
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Your Hands and Feet Swell

If you have high blood pressure as well as diabetes, the two conditions can damage the kidneys' ability to filter wastes and fluid over time. As water builds up in your body, your hands and feet may swell -- a warning sign that you may have kidney disease. You can preserve the kidney function you have by taking your diabetes and blood pressure medicines as prescribed. Diet changes may help. Work with a nutritionist to keep your blood sugar under control.

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Doctor examining patients feet
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You Have Numbness or Tingling

Nerve damage (called peripheral neuropathy) can be another sign of chronically elevated blood sugars. It results in numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, or inability to feel pain or temperature changes. See your podiatrist for regular foot exams. People with neuropathy may not realize they have been injured from a cut or that a wound is becoming infected. Or they may be oversensitive to pain. They might experience severe and constant pain from otherwise painless stimulation.

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Woman clutching her stomach
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You Have Stomach Trouble

Diabetes also damages the nerve that helps your stomach empty and move food smoothly through your digestive tract. When your stomach can't empty quickly enough, a condition called gastroparesis, you may deal with unpleasant abdominal problems like diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence. Many people also have problems eating or swallowing. Gastroparesis also can make it harder to control your diabetes.

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Illustration of diabetic retinopathy
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You're Losing Your Sight

High blood sugar and high blood pressure both can damage the sensitive structures in your eyes and threaten your vision. Diabetic retinopathy -- caused by damage to the blood vessels in the eye -- is the biggest cause of blindness in adults. Blurred vision, spots, lines, or flashing lights are signs that it's time to see your eye doctor. Get your eyes checked now, before your vision has a chance to deteriorate.

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Woman weighing self
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You're Losing Weight

Losing unwanted pounds is always a good idea to manage type 2 diabetes. But if you're losing weight quickly, without trying, or without doing anything different, it may be a sign that your blood sugar is too high. When your glucose is high, it gets flushed out of the body in urine, taking the calories and fluids you consume with it.

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Woman having ear examined
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You Have Recurring Infections

Frequent or recurring infections are sometimes a sign of high blood sugar. You might experience gum disease, urinary tract infections, bacterial or fungal infections of the skin, or, if you're a woman, yeast infections. Other infections might include pneumonia and respiratory infections, kidney and gallbladder infections, and severe bacterial middle ear and fungal sinus infections.

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Close up of person applying bandage
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Cuts and Bruises Won't Heal

If your blood sugar isn't well controlled, you might find that cuts and bruises are slow to heal. Tending to injuries, however small, is important because it reduces the risk of infections in people with diabetes. Infections themselves can also worsen blood sugars, which makes it even harder for your immune system to fight off the infection.

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Collage of people controlling diabetes
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Keep Control

Don't panic about diabetes complications -- try to avoid them by carefully following your doctor's treatment plan. Take your medicine, eat a healthy diet, and exercise to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Use your meter to test your blood sugar so you know that it's staying in the recommended range. An A1C test at least twice a year will give you a good snapshot of your blood sugar control over time.

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Worried looking man on cell phone
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When to Call Your Doctor

Any new or unusual symptoms are worth making a call to your doctor. Call if you feel dizzy or your blood sugar drops, or if you have severe symptoms like uncontrolled vomiting, dizziness, numbness or tingling, or blurred or double vision that doesn't go away. Also call if you're having trouble controlling your blood pressure on your own.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 09/01/2016 Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on September 01, 2016

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SOURCES:

American Diabetes Association: "Checking Your Blood Glucose," "Neuropathy (Nerve Damage)."

American Medical Association, American Medical Association Guide to Living with Diabetes, John Wiley and Sons, 2007.

Conkling, W., The Complete Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, Macmillan, 2009.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your diabetes under control," "Hypoglycemia," "Kidney Disease of Diabetes," Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes."

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet."

National Kidney Foundation: "How Your Kidneys Work."

Nemours Foundation: "Type 2 Diabetes: What Is it?"

University of Washington Women's Health: "Understanding Diabetes."

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on September 01, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.