What are the signs of type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops gradually, so you might not know you had diabetes until symptoms become obvious. This can be dangerous because high blood sugar may have already started to damage the blood vessels. It’s important to be screened for diabetes and to recognise the symptoms early. 

There are certain factors which make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes – for example if you are middle aged or older, if you are overweight, and if you have a family history. If you think you might be at risk, these are some signs to look out for: 

Excessive urination (this is a way the body removes excess sugar)

Extreme thirst (resulting from urination)

Tiredness and fatigue (because energy from  sugar isn’t reaching the body cells)

Thrush/genital itching, yeast infection (sugar  in the urine provides a breeding ground for  organisms)

Blurry vision (due to high sugar levels in the  fluid of the eye, and rarely, damage to the  eye’s blood vessels)

Weight loss (when the cells aren’t getting  sugar, fat gets used as an energy source)

It’s also important to know that many people don’t have these symptoms until their blood sugars are quite high.


Diagnosing type 2 diabetes

The test for diabetes is to measure a fasting (nothing to eat or drink for 8 hours) blood sugar test.  Sometimes a blood sugar test is done before and two hours after eating.  Another test called an HbA1C can also be taken, which is a non-fasting test and sometimes easier. This measures what your blood sugar levels have been over the past 2–3 months.   Lastly, if your blood sugar levels are high but not confirming diabetes, you may have a glucose tolerance test. After taking your fasting blood sugar, you are given a sugar drink and then your blood sugar is measured 2 hours later. 

This can be followed up with a blood test that measures the amount of sugar in your blood at the time of the test – this would be taken either two hours after a meal, or before breakfast to get a “fasting” blood sugar value. The test is looking for high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood to confirm type 2 diabetes.


What now?

If any of your results are abnormal, your doctor will perform a second test to confirm if you have diabetes.  It is usually a repeat of the test that was abnormal.


Like this? You may also be interested in: