How would I know if I Have Type 2 Diabetes?
Around 1.4 million people1 get diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes each year in the United States alone. And with 422 million cases worldwide2, and it is one of the most often diagnosed diseases on Earth.
Unfortunately, not only is Type 2 Diabetes common, but it can also be deadly. It only becomes so when not treated. Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed with diet and lifestyle changes. Have you ever asked yourself, “could I have Type 2 Diabetes?”
Every year, about 1.5 million deaths occur from diabetes3. 48% of those cases were younger than 70 years old. Think about these statistics!
It’s clear that identifying and diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes early on is important. It’s important that everyone knows and recognizes the signs of Type 2 Diabetes. You need to know what the signs are both in yourself and in your loved ones.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Before we dive into the signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, let’s take a moment to discuss what it is and how it works.
Digestion breaks down carbohydrates. It breaks them down into smaller molecules known as sugar.
This sugar is then absorbed into the blood, where it gets a special name, glucose. Once in the blood, this glucose gets taken to our cells and should be used for energy—kind of like fuel for an engine. Sometimes there is too much to use. Then the excess glucose gets stored as fat.
The Importance of Insulin
This process may sound simple, but it’s not. Because of the way our cells are designed, this glucose needs help getting inside the cell. Much like how gas needs a nozzle to get into the tank. And for glucose, the key is insulin.
In a person with Type 2 Diabetes, this insulin is ineffective. All that glucose gets stuck sitting in the blood instead of going inside the cells when this happens.
This causes two big problems. One, the cells don’t get the fuel they need. And two, all that sugar in the blood starts to hurt the body over time.
This is insulin resistance, which we will discuss in more detail below.
There are two kinds of diabetes: Type I and Type 2.
People with Type I diabetes have a hard time making insulin at all. Because of this, Type I patients are usually diagnosed early on in life.
Type 2 Diabetes is often “acquired,” meaning it develops over time. This kind of diabetes occurs when the body can make insulin, but the cells don’t recognize the key.
This website and article are specifically oriented towards Type 2 Diabetes because it is the greatest threat to our health worldwide.
Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Now that you know what diabetes is… are you wondering what it looks like?
Type 2 diabetes has some unique signs and symptoms that can alert your doctor to a diagnosis.
Early Type 2 Diabetes doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. This is a huge issue for people because they do not realize that organ damage is already happening. People start to notice as long-term high blood sugar effects start to show themselves.
Many of the first real signs of Type 2 Diabetes are also signs of dehydration. This has to do with how all of that extra glucose gets removed from the body.
When the glucose in the blood starts to increase, the kidneys begin to work overtime to filter most of it out. This means that a lot of that sugar goes into your urine. But to pull out all that glucose, your kidneys must also take out a lot of extra water. This leaves the body dehydrated.
This dehydration starts to show itself by causing unusual thirst. Also be aware of urinating more often, and dry and itchy skin. You may find that you are more thirsty than usual, and also going to the restroom more than normal. When you notice this, it is time to get your fasting blood sugar and A1C checked.
What happens to my body if my A1c stays high?
Weight Gain/Insulin Resistance
Insulin gets created in the pancreas. This is in response to insulin resistance. This hormone signals the muscles and liver to store blood sugar.
Guess how it’s stored?
In our fat cells! Especially belly fat!
Are you drinking beverages sweetened with fructose, sucrose, or high fructose corn syrup?
These beverages cause the liver to store fat due to this extra sugar. This fat creates hormones. The more fat you have the more of these hormones you’ll produce.
These hormones play a role in insulin resistance, often leading to Type 2 Diabetes.
Insulin resistance is the main marker of Type 2 Diabetes.
This creates an inability in the body to use the hormone insulin to transport glucose to our cells. Our cells and muscles need glucose for energy4.
Not Getting Enough Fuel
Do you have unusual bouts of hunger? How about muscle weakness or tiredness? These red flags are with your attention.
Type 2 Diabetes causes the body to almost go into starvation-like mode.
This causes the body cells to send out hunger5 signals to the brain, even if the person has eaten recently. And like anyone else who isn’t getting the nutrients they need, these people become weak and tired.
Without treatment, these cells will break down fat and muscle for fuel. This is because they can’t get the glucose they need.
Damage to Nerves and Blood Vessels
The long-term presence of sugar in the blood can cause damage to related parts of the body. People with diabetes can experience negative changes in how their blood works. This hurts blood vessels and nerves.
When the blood has too much sugar, it can become thicker6 than it should be. This causes the blood to struggle to reach every part of the body.
If this goes untreated for long enough, it can cause damage to small blood vessels. The tiny vessels in the eye are especially vulnerable. The heart can also be damaged.
When the blood can’t flow it can’t get to the cardiac cells. This causes heart attacks. Other small vessels include those that feed the nerves, lungs, arms, and legs.
Signs and symptoms of these complications:
- slow healing
- blurred vision
- heart problems, and more
Wondering if you have this disease can be scary! If you have any concerns that you may be suffering from it, be on the lookout for these signs:
- frequent peeing
- unusual thirst
- dry skin
- feeling tired or weak
- frequent illness
- slow wound healing
- vision changes
- numbness and tingling
If you have any of these signs, talk to your doctor to get testing for Type 2 diabetes.
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