Type 2 diabetes tends to develop slowly, over time. Many people with the disease go undiagnosed - possibly because they don't recognize the symptoms (and thus don't bring it up with their doctors), or they're afraid to get tested in case a diabetes diagnosis is confirmed. However, knowing the first signs of diabetes is important: it allows you to make changes that could allow you to lower your risk of getting the disease... or, if diabetes is confirmed, you can start a diabetes treatment plan of self-care.
What's the big deal if diabetes goes undiagnosed? Untreated diabetes can lead to much more serious complications, including heart disease, kidney problems, vision problems, circulatory problems (if serious and untreated, can lead to amputation), and more. Aside from the complications, diabetics have many symptoms that don't allow them to feel their best.
What causes diabetes? The primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:
Carrying excess weight in one of the prime indicators that you are at risk for diabetes. Being overweight causes your body to become less sensitive to insulin, a hormone in the body which lowers blood sugar. Insulin resistance often leads to a diagnosis of diabetes unless you take steps to lower your risk.
You may experience one or more of these symptoms, in greater or lesser degree. Every individual is different. Be alert for these signs and consult your doctor especially if you are at risk for the disease. Symptoms include:
Your doctor can discuss your family history, risks, and symptoms and may recommend having a blood glucose test done. This will determine whether your blood sugar is normal, whether you're considered pre-diabetic, or if you are diabetic. Note that sometimes blood glucose levels can be normal for years before diabetes is confirmed. If you are at risk it's best to take immediate action to lower your risk.
Awareness of the first signs of diabetes will help you to catch the disease early. By following a strict treatment plan you may be able to reverse the course of the disease or at least control it and minimize the risk of developing complications of diabetes. Even if you don't currently show symptoms, you can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by maintaining (or reaching) a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating a diet rich in a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy.