The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Contrary to popular belief, it is not uncommon for many people to actually live with type 2 diabetes without realising. Most of the signs and symptoms of type 2 often progress gradually, and they can go unregistered or be misinterpreted for something else altogether. As a result of not being identified earlier on, the condition can progress along with a reduced likelihood of being able to achieve diabetes remission. In this blog we will look at what the main signs and symptoms are for type 2 diabetes, as the faster you can recognise them, the faster you can act upon them.
One of the first, and perhaps the most noticeable, signs of type 2 diabetes can be identified from excessive urination, which you may hear a doctor or nurse refer to as polyuria. Why does this happen? Our kidneys act as the body’s filtration system to reabsorb nutrients that we want to keep, and remove harmful and unwanted waste products that we don’t want to keep. Under normal physiological circumstances, when filtering our blood, glucose is filtered by the kidneys, followed by being returned into our bloodstream. However, blood glucose levels can be excessively high in individuals with type 2 diabetes. As a consequence, when blood glucose levels are excessively high, not all of that glucose can be reabsorbed after filtration. This results in the urine within our bladder having a high concentration of glucose. In order to balance out this imbalance, more water is absorbed into the bladder which as you can imagine, causes excessive urination- often up to 3 litres per day!
Increased feeling of thirst
- Passing more than 4-5 litres of urine per day and needing to go a lot more than normal
- Having a persistent and excessive feeling of thirst regardless of how much you drink
Feeling tired all the time
Feeling tired, for many of us, is one of the inevitable parts of our day. However, feeling excessively tired, lethargic or fatigued, despite having a long night's sleep, can also be a sign of type 2 diabetes. Looking at why this is the case, our body’s primary source of energy comes from the glucose that is produced after metabolising carbohydrate from our foods. Every living cell within our body requires a constant and plentiful flow of energy to function effectively. As type 2 diabetes develops, this flow of energy into our cells becomes disrupted. Again, you may recall from one of our previous blogs, we discussed that there is a risk of developing insulin resistance from carrying excess weight; in particular, visceral fat that surrounds organs such as the pancreas and liver. This visceral fat secretes various harmful cell signalling proteins known as Adipokines that can reduce the insulin sensitivity of many of the cells throughout the body. When this happens, the flow of glucose into our cells to be used for energy becomes compromised which results in tiredness despite plentiful sleep.
This block in the flow of glucose into our cells can be thought of as a lock and key, where insulin acts like the key to open the lock on our cells to let glucose in. When insulin resistance occurs, the locks on our cells become harder to open. When less insulin is produced as type 2 diabetes progresses, less keys are available to open the locks.The result being the levels of glucose left in the blood are higher than they would be if this system was working efficiently.
Unintentional weight loss
This sign and symptom may come as a bit of a surprise given that excess weight is the primary cause of type 2 diabetes. However, unintentional weight loss is one of the later signs of type 2 diabetes. As we just discussed, carrying excess weight can result in visceral fat building up around organs such as the pancreas. As more visceral fat builds up, the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin becomes significantly compromised. This decreased secretion of insulin significantly reduces the amount of glucose our body cells can absorb. As a consequence, we can no longer use the energy that we can derive from carbohydrates; this can also be visualised using the lock and key analogy where less keys in the form of insulin are produced. In order to make up for this loss of energy derived from carbohydrate, the body must now source its energy from fat. The result of this change in how the body sources energy is that we can experience unintentional weight loss, as the amount of fat within our diet is highly unlikely to be sufficient enough to maintain our weight.
Genitalia itching and thrush
- Feeling of burning when urinating
Wounds taking longer to heal