Catching symptoms of type 2 diabetes early can help prevent serious health complications – like heart disease, kidney disease or nerve damage – further down the road.
But many people don’t experience symptoms early on. And if they do, they often don’t recognize them as out of the ordinary, says Mahvish Qazi, MD, a family medicine specialist with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Bridgeport, who often refers to diabetes as a “silent killer”.
So, how can you tell if you have diabetes?
If you’re experiencing any of these four symptoms of type 2 diabetes, it may be time to see your primary care doctor about getting your blood sugar tested, says Dr. Qazi.
“One of the main jobs of the kidney is to filter our blood. They dispose of toxins and reabsorb much-needed electrolytes into our bodies,” explains Dr. Qazi.
In most cases, glucose reabsorbs when passing through our kidneys. But, when your glucose load is too high – in the case of diabetes – excess glucose excretes into your urine, dragging in more fluid, and making you have to pee more often.
Dry mouth and feeling thirsty
When excess glucose excretes into your urine, it depletes your body of fluids making you dehydrated.
So, if you’re feeling thirsty more than usual or your mouth is extra dry, it may be a sign of diabetes.
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Exhaustion and hunger
“The food we eat breaks down into glucose molecules. Our bodies then use these glucose molecules as energy for fuel,” explains Dr. Qazi. “And in order for glucose to turn into energy, our bodies must produce enough insulin.”
However, with diabetes, our bodies may not be able to produce enough insulin to help convert glucose into energy, which leaves glucose outside of our cells. The glucose that never makes it into our cells does not convert into energy.
This, in turn, leaves us feeling hungry and tired.
“Yeast feeds on glucose,” says Dr. Qazi, “And when we urinate more glucose, we create the ideal environment for yeast to overgrow.”
Certain people are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some risk factors include:
- Family history
- Sedentary behaviors
- Race, including African Americans, Hispanic or Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders
If you have any of the risk factors above, Dr. Qazi suggests you see your primary care doctor regularly. And if you don’t, it’s still important to see your doctor for your annual physical exams.