Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes due to high blood sugar may include:

  • More thirst: When sugar builds up in your blood, your kidneys work overtime to get rid of it. This pulls fluids from your tissues and makes you dehydrated, so you feel thirsty.
  • More hunger: Diabetes can stop glucose from getting to your cells, so you feel hungry, even after you’ve eaten.
  • Dry mouth: Dehydration and peeing a lot can drain moisture from your mouth as well.
  • Frequent urination: You’ll pee more because your kidneys are working to get rid of extra sugar in your system, and you’re drinking more to keep up with your thirst this causes.
  • Unexplained weight loss: When you lose sugar from peeing a lot, you lose calories, too. You might lose weight even though you’re eating and feel hungry.
  • Fatigue: When your body can’t use energy from food, you could feel weak and tired. Dehydration can do it, too.
  • Blurred vision: High blood sugar pulls fluids from your eyes, so they have trouble focusing
  • Headaches: High blood sugar levels can cause your head to hurt.
  • Loss of consciousness: It’s rare, but when your blood sugar goes too low, you could pass out. It can happen from too much medication, after you exercise, or if you skip a meal.
  • Infections or sores that don’t heal: High blood sugar can slow blood flow and make it harder for your body to heal.
  • Tingling hands and feet: Type 2 diabetes can affect nerves in your hands and feet.
  • Red, swollen, tender gums: You might be more likely to get infections in your gums and the bones that hold your teeth in place. Your gums may get infected or pull away from your teeth. Your teeth might get loose.

Type 2 diabetes is usually not diagnosed until there are health complications. Most often, there are no diabetes symptoms or a very gradual development of the above symptoms of type 2 diabetes. In fact, about one out of every four people with type 2 diabetes don't know they have it.

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Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes Complications

Other symptoms of type 2 diabetes complications may include:

Complications From Type 2 Diabetes

Over time, people with type 2 diabetes may notice these problems:

  • Hypoglycemia: Blood sugar lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) can lead to accidents, coma, and death.
  • Hyperglycemia: Blood sugar above 180-200 mg/dL can lead to heart, nerve, kidney, and vision problems. Over the long term, it also can lead to coma and death.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis: When you don’t have enough insulin in your system, your blood sugar rises and your body breaks down fat for energy. Toxic acids called ketones build up and spill over into your urine. It can cause coma and death if you don’t treat it.
  • Heart and blood vessel diseases: People with diabetes are likely to have certain conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which play a role in heart disease. Also, over time, high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.
  • High blood pressure: Diabetes makes you twice as likely to have high blood pressure, which raises your odds of heart disease and stroke.
  • Nerve damage: Your doctor will call it diabetic neuropathy. It can cause tingling and numbness, most often in your feet and legs. But it can also affect your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.
  • Eye damage: Diabetes can cause:
    • Glaucoma: A buildup of pressure in your eye
    • Cataracts: Cloudiness on the lens
    • Retinopathy: Damage to the blood vessels in your eye
  • Kidney disease: When your glucose is high, your kidneys have to work harder to filter the extra sugar, along with all the other waste products from your blood.
  • Hearing problems: Doctors aren’t sure why this happens, but they think high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels in your ears.
  • Skin problems: Diabetes can cause a range of skin problems:
    • Infections: you’re more likely to get bacterial and fungal infections
    • Itching: Causes include infections, dry skin, and poor circulation. You might notice it on your lower legs.
    • Acanthosis nigricans: These tan or brown areas can show up on your neck, armpits, groin, hands, elbows, and knees.
    • Diabetic dermopathy: Changes to small blood vessels that look like light brown scaly patches. They often show up on your feet and the front of your legs.
    • Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD): This rare condition also affects your blood vessels. It starts as a dull, red, raised area but winds up as a shiny scar with a violet border. Your skin could itch or crack open. Women are more likely to get this than men.
    • Allergic reactions: You could get these in response to insulin or another diabetes medication.
    • Diabetic blisters (bullosis diabeticorum): These sores look like burn blisters and can show up on the backs of your fingers, hands, toes, feet, and sometimes on your legs or forearms.
    • Disseminated granuloma annulare: You might get red, brown, or skin-colored rings or arc-shaped raised areas on your fingers, ears, or trunk.

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When to Call the Doctor

Contact your health care provider if you have any type 2 diabetes symptoms or if you have questions about type 2 diabetes. It's important to get diabetes testing and start a treatment plan early to prevent serious diabetes complications.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on June 12, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Diabetes Association: "Diabetes Symptoms," “Eye Complications,” “Diabetes and Hearing Loss,” “Kidney Disease (Nephropathy),” “Skin Complications.”

American College of Endocrinology: "Position statement on inpatient diabetes and metabolic control."

Physicians Desk Reference (PDR Health): ''Diabetes - Type 2 Symptoms.''

Mayo Clinic: “Diabetes symptoms: When diabetes symptoms are a concern,” “Diabetic hypoglycemia,” “Diabetic neuropathy,” “Hyperglycemia in diabetes.”

Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research: “Xerostomia Due to Systemic Disease: A Review of 20 Conditions and Mechanisms.”

Evidence-Based Diabetes Management: “The Persistent Complication of Hypoglycemia in Diabetics.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Diabetes and High Blood Pressure.”

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