Have you got type 2 diabetes? Read these 10 early signs


Type 2 diabetes doesn’t present the most obvious symptoms, and some people aren’t aware they have the condition until years down the line.
Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1, affecting about 90% of those diagnosed with the condition compared to just 8% of those with type 1
You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes depending on your age, lifestyle, weight, family history and ethnic background.
There’s no cure for diabetes, but it can be controlled with insulin, and in some cases, be sent into remission
As part of World Diabetes Day, we’ve compiled this helpful guide so you know what signs and symptoms to look out for.

Feeling tired

The majority of people don’t get enough sleep at night, leaving them feeling tired and lethargic during the day.
But tiredness can also be a symptom of type 2 diabetes, especially after meals.
Your blood sugar levels rise when there isn’t enough insulin in the body or when it’s not working as it should.
Insulin is needed to transport glucose from the blood and into our cells to give us energy.
When there is a problem with insulin, we don’t get the sufficient amount of energy we need, therefore we feel tired.
If you’re feeling tired, especially after a full, restful sleep, it’s a good idea to get your blood sugar levels checked.
Man drinking a bottle of water

Increased thirst

We all get thirsty, particularly following exercise or after eating something salty or spicy, as our body is telling us that it needs more hydration to function as it should.
But if you’re constantly feeling thirsty, even when you’ve just had a drink, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
If you have diabetes, glucose will build up in your blood, forcing your kidneys to work extremely hard to get rid of the excess.
Your kidneys are good, but they’re not perfect.
So, some glucose will get filtered into your urine, dragging along fluids that will make you feel dehydrated.
Excessive thirst is known as polydipsia, and it can also be accompanied by a very dry mouth.

Hungrier than usual

Polyphagia is the term used for increased hunger and it’s another one of the key signs of diabetes. 
It’s perfectly normal to feel an increase in hunger, for example, when you’ve done a strenuous activity or when you’re experiencing stress.
If you have diabetes, you may experience an increased appetite because your body’s insulin resistance prevents the glucose from reaching the muscle to provide you with energy.
Therefore, if your body isn’t getting the energy it needs, it will keep sending hunger messages to your brain.

Urinating frequently

As we touched on earlier, your kidneys can’t eliminate all of the glucose on their own, so some is passed through your urine, resulting in dehydration.
Hence why you drink more and pass more urine.
You might not notice how often you’re going to the toilet, but a key sign is if you’re waking up in the middle of the night to urinate and it’s disturbing your sleep.
Frequent urination isn’t just a symptom of diabetes - it can occur if you have a UTI, a kidney infection, an overactive bladder or if you are pregnant.
If the cause is indeed diabetes, it may be accompanied by other symptoms, like extreme thirst.

Blurred vision

High glucose levels can sometimes cause your eyes to swell, which can impact your vision.
Blurred vision associated with diabetes is typically a temporary problem and should go away once your condition is managed.
If you’re experiencing vision changes, it’s important to get your eyes checked - it might not be diabetes, but it could be something else you may still need treatment for.

Weight loss

A fluctuation in weight is normal, but a significant drop in weight isn’t - that is, if you’re not actively trying to lose weight.
If you have diabetes, the lack of insulin stops the body from transporting glucose from the blood into your cells to create energy.
When this happens, your body looks for other sources of energy and begins to burn fat and muscle, causing you to unexpectedly lose weight.


Wounds that aren’t healing

If you’ve had a wound for a long time and it hasn’t healed, it could be a sign of diabetes, especially if other symptoms are present.
If you’ve got high blood sugar levels, over time it can affect the nerves and lead to poor circulation, making it very hard for blood to reach the areas of a wound to repair and heal it.
If you’ve got an open, unhealed wound, it puts you at a higher risk of contracting fungal and bacterial infections, as well as gangrene.


Dizziness is caused by something affecting the brain or the ears, and can be the result of many different issues, not just diabetes.
Diabetes causes dehydration, and when the brain doesn’t have enough water, it can struggle to function and cause lightheadedness.
If you’re experiencing frequent bouts of dizziness, speak to your doctor.

Yeast infections

Some studies suggest that women with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of contracting vaginal thrush. 
This may be due to the fact that yeast feeds off of sugar, and if you have high blood sugar levels, it can encourage the yeast to grow excessively which can develop into a yeast infection.
This doesn’t mean if you get thrush you’ll have diabetes, though, as they’re extremely common.
But if you are getting them frequently, speak to your doctor as they will want to investigate why.


The severe itching of the feet, ankles, legs and genital area is common in people who have diabetes, as the result of sugar levels that are too high.
This is typically caused by dry skin, poor circulation and yeast infections, which can be a complication of untreated diabetes.
If your itchiness is having a negative impact on your life, you should speak to your doctor to discover the cause, as severe itching can cause irritation and sores, which can become infected.

If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, in particular extreme thirst or weight loss, you should speak to your GP to get your blood sugar levels checked.
Type 2 diabetes can be hard to detect, but left undiagnosed, it can lead to problems down the line if your symptoms go untreated.
If you need any more information about diabetes, visit the World Diabetes Day website.

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 15 March 2023
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