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What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

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Onset of type 2 diabetes is characterised by an absence of symptoms. The condition  progresses slowly, sometimes for a number of years, sometimes without the appearance of any warning signs at all.

Certain risk factors still influence its development. The most important of these, if we exclude the effects of aging, are a sedentary lifestyle coupled with an unbalanced diet. Both of these factors can contribute to excess weight or obesity which can in turn lead to the development of insulin resistance, thereby increasing risks of type 2 diabetes.

As a preventative measure, annual screening can sometimes be recommended for those with a predisposition to type 2 diabetes, even if there are no symptoms.

Principal symptoms

The principal symptoms of type 2 diabetes are those characteristic of hyperglycaemia

  • excessive thirst;
  • a frequent urge to urinate;
  • weight loss;
  • excessive appetite;
  • chronic tiredness.

Even if there are no symptoms, type 2 diabetes can have serious health consequences. If it goes untreated, it has been seen to cause heart disease, stroke, neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy.

Progression to type 2 diabetes can be delayed, provided the diagnosis is made before the first symptoms of diabetes develop and glycaemia is not too high. Early diagnosis enables a transition away from an unbalanced lifestyle, especially poor diet and lack of exercise, both of which are key factors in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Is it possible to have type 2 diabetes without having any symptoms?   

Before its onset, type 2 diabetes progresses slowly for a number of years without showing any symptoms at all.

The asymptomatic phase, called pre-diabetes, is characterised by increasing insulin resistance and an increase in fasting blood glucose levels. The pancreas is overworked, gets tired, and can no longer produce the amount of insulin needed to maintain stable blood glucose levels.

Owing to the absence of visible symptoms, pre-diabetes is often diagnosed by accident during a blood test for other health concerns. In order to correctly identify type 2 diabetes before it reaches an advanced stage, and is therefore potentially dangerous, regular blood testing is recommended, allowing your GP to detect any abnormal blood glucose levels and carry out further examination.

Sources

  1. Markku Laakso. Biomarkers for type 2 diabetes. Mol Metab. 2019 Sep; 27(Suppl): S139–S146.
  2. Samantha Roberts, Eleanor Barry, Dawn Craig, Mara Airoldi, Gwyn Bevan, Trisha Greenhalgh. Preventing type 2 diabetes: systematic review of studies of cost-effectiveness of lifestyle programmes and metformin, with and without screening, for pre-diabetes. BMJ Open. 2017; 7(11): e017184.
  3. Kung-Ting Kao, Matthew A Sabin. Type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents. Aust Fam Physician. 2016 Jun;45(6):401-6.
  4. Karly Pippitt , Marlana Li , Holly E Gurgle, Diabetes Mellitus: Screening and Diagnosis. Am Fam Physician, 2016 Jan 15;93(2):103-9.
  5. Raquel Vieira, Selma B Souto, Elena Sánchez-López, Ana López Machado, Patricia Severino, Sajan Jose, Antonello Santini, Amelia M Silva, Ana Fortuna, Maria Luisa García, Eliana B Souto. Sugar-Lowering Drugs for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Metabolic Syndrome-Strategies for In Vivo Administration: Part-II. J Clin Med. 2019 Aug 28;8(9):1332.
  6. Zand A, Ibrahim K, Patham B. Prediabetes: Why Should We Care? Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. Oct-Dec 2018;14(4):289-297.
  7. Ewan R. Pearson. Type 2 diabetes: a multifaceted disease. Diabetologia. 2019; 62(7): 1107–1112.

About Making Diabetes Easier

Air Liquide Healthcare UK is committed to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Our healthcare teams provide patients and their loved ones with education, support and personalisation of care.

Our mission? #makingdiabeteseasier

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