The 10 Most Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Though millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, many more don't even know they're at high risk. If you're unsure whether you're in this group or not, it pays to be aware of the most common symptoms. If you find that you have some of these telltale symptoms, see your health care provider.

"Many type 2 diabetics don't have any symptoms when they are diagnosed," says Kelly O'Connor, RD, LDN, CDE, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. "A lot of people get diagnosed when they come in for a pre-op checkup, or when they have a physical."

Some 6 to 7 million Americans have diabetes but don't know it yet, says Luigi Meneghini, MD, director of the Diabetes Research Institute's Kosow Diabetes Treatment Center in Miami, Florida. So it pays to be watchful.

Symptoms to Look For

This top ten list of symptoms comes from O'Connor, Meneghini, and Eric Braverman, MD, founder of Path Medical Center in New York City.

1. Excessive thirst. Thirst, even after you've had plenty of water to drink, is a classic symptom.

2. Frequent urination. Obviously if you drink a lot of coffee or tea, you'll be making frequent bathroom visits. But if you're waking up often at night to go, this is definitely be a red flag. When there is too much sugar in the blood, your body keeps attempting to draw extra water from the blood in order to dilute all that glucose, O'Connor explains.

3. Headaches. There are plenty of other reasons for a headache, but if you are experiencing them for the first time in conjunction with other symptoms, pay attention. High blood sugar, or a rapidly fluctuating blood sugar, can cause headaches.

4. Blurry vision. This can indicate other conditions, too, but it's a cardinal symptom when the blood sugar is out of whack.

5. Tingling and/or numbness in the hands and feet. Known as neuropathy, or nerve damage, this starts to occur very gradually when the blood sugar levels are abnormal. Nerve damage can be silent for awhile, so if you are experiencing tingling or numbness, definitely see the doctor.

6. Dry, itchy skin. If you just can't seem to stop itching, and there's no other reason for it, diabetes is one diagnosis to consider.

7. Cuts and bruises that don't heal promptly. These, too, can occur because of high blood sugar.

8. Weakness and fatigue. Since your cells aren't able to efficiently use glucose if the insulin either isn't there doing what it should or if your cells are no longer reacting to it, then you feel tired and run down.

9. Acanthosis. This skin condition typically appears in people who are obese or who have either prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, O'Connor explains. It can cause certain areas of the body, usually in folds and creases such as the armpits and the neck, to darken and thicken.

10. A big belly. "A lot of type 2 diabetics have this symptom," says Braverman. "As a rule, nearly all people with type 2 are overweight, but a large belly is definitely a symptom, especially in a man."




"Diabetes Basics: Type 2." American Diabetes Association