Type 2 diabetes has plenty of early signs, but they’re subtle enough that you might not notice
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“It’s not like you wake up one day and all of a sudden you’re thirsty, hungry, and [going to the bathroom] all the time,” says Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD, a certified diabetes educator in Chicago, Illinois and a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “It picks up gradually.” Indeed, “most people are unaware that they have [type 2] diabetes in its early or even middle phases,” says Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. And just because you’re unaware doesn’t mean you’re immune to the problems associated with the disease. The longer you go without managing your condition, the greater your risk for diabetes-related complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, amputation, vision loss, and nerve damage. “We recommend that people with risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history or being overweight, get evaluated on a regular basis,” Dr. Cypess says. If you’ve been feeling off, talk to your doctor about getting a simple blood test that can diagnose the disease. And be on the lookout for these symptoms.
You’re taking more bathroom breaks
With type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, your body becomes less efficient at breaking food down into glucose (also known as sugar), your body’s main source of energy. As a result, you have more sugar sitting in your bloodstream, says Dobbins. “Your body gets rid of it by flushing it out in the urine.” Going to the bathroom a lot is an easy-to-miss symptom. After all, says Dr. Cypess, most people aren’t aware of how often they use the bathroom. “When we ask about it, we often hear, ‘Oh yeah, I guess I’m going more often than I used to,’ ” he says. Here’s a red flag: the need to urinate keeps you up at night. Once might be normal, but if it’s affecting your ability to sleep, that could be a diabetes symptom to pay attention to. Make sure you know these diabetes myths that could sabotage your health.