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6 Warning Signs of Diabetes

6 Warning Signs of Diabetes

Do any of these sound familiar? They may indicate you have type 2 diabetes.

About 28 million people in America have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another 84 million have prediabetes, or elevated blood sugar levels that are often a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Like so many other health problems, diabetes is best treated—and may even be reversed—when it’s caught early. Here are some of the most common warning signs of the disease.

1. Frequent urination
When you have diabetes, excess glucose builds up in the blood. The kidneys try to filter out waste and keep the nutrients your body needs, including glucose. But when the blood glucose level is too high, the kidneys are overwhelmed and some of that glucose escapes into urine. That causes the body to produce more urine—and your bathroom trips will increase.

2. Increased thirst
Can’t seem to drink enough to quench your thirst? See your doctor. The frequent urination that accompanies type 2 diabetes can cause dehydration. What’s more, all that sugar in the bloodstream pull fluids from your tissues, drying you out even more.

3. Increased hunger
When you have type 2 diabetes, your cells are starved for sugar because it’s stuck in the bloodstream. As a result, cells send out the signal: We’re hungry! Your brain is tricked into eating more.

4. Weight loss
Some people with type 2 diabetes may experience sudden, unexplained weight loss. That’s because some of the sugar from the food you eat is excreted in the urine, so the calories never “count."

5. Blurred vision
Excess sugar in the blood pulls fluids from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes. This can blur your vision. High blood sugar can also damage blood vessels in the retina, causing diabetic retinopathy.

6. Weakness and fatigue
The dehydration caused by frequent urination and the lack of sugar in the body’s cells can add up to feeling weak and tired.

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away for blood tests and an accurate diagnosis. If you have diabetes and don’t know it, the disease could be causing silent damage. Appropriate treatment can get it under control.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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