I'm a Doctor and Here are 5 Diabetes Signs to Check Right Now

The number of cases of Type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically.  Over 34 million people — one in 10 Americans — have it.  Another 95 million people are at risk for diabetes.  Sadly, many people aren't even aware of it. That's why it's so important to learn the warning signs as well as what you can do to prevent it.  And if you do have diabetes, how you can effectively manage it.  Diabetes is a serious condition which increases your risk for many other health issues, including heart disease and stroke.  The good news is that the majority of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle. Read on to see the 5 signs.—Dr. John Whyte CMO of WebMD is an expert on preventative care and author of the Take Control Series.

1

You Are Thirsty a Lot

woman in bed feeling thirsty reaching for water
woman in bed feeling thirsty reaching for water

I find patients often ignore the symptoms early-on because they don't attribute them to diabetes.  One of the first signs that people often describe is polydipsia — this means you are thirsty a lot.  The elevated blood sugar levels are drawing water out of your cells, and therefore you become thirsty a lot. Your mouth feels dry and your skin starts to lose its tone.  I had a patient who told me before she was diagnosed with diabetes that she knew something was wrong when she was so thirsty,  she was drinking from the bathroom sink.  Keep in mind that when you become dehydrated, you often can develop headaches and dizziness. 

2

You Go to Bathroom a Lot

Woman Washing her hands with soap and water at home bathroom
Woman Washing her hands with soap and water at home bathroom

Along with the polydipsia, one starts to urinate a lot — polyuria. They are connected symptoms since all of the water coming out from your cells is then being eliminated by the kidneys and in your urine.  One of the reasons why we check your urine is that the elevated sugar is spilling out into your urine.   You're thirsty a lot, and then you started peeing a lot. But you never seem to quite quench that thirst.  This increased urination becomes noticeable because you often have an urge to urinate.  The average number of times one goes to the bathroom daily is around seven.  With polyuria, you are going more frequently than that. another way to think abut this is most adults make about 3 liters of urine a day.  With untreated diabetes, you could be making around 15 liters a day.

3

You are Always Hungry

woman thinking about eating a potato chip and practicing mindful eating
woman thinking about eating a potato chip and practicing mindful eating

Another common sign of diabetes is excessive hunger and eating — this is called polyphagia.  Basically, you are eating a lot yet you don't feel full.  You often find yourself craving food — including sugary treats! What's happening here is that because your body has become resistant to insulin,  your body's cells cannot get enough glucose — which is their source of energy.  It interesting to note that  people  with polyphagia don't automatically gain weight.  Some people will actually lose weight, especially early -on in their disease.  This is because even though they are eating more food than normal and more frequently,  most of the excess calories are lost in the urine and they aren't getting the energy they need. . !

4

These Feelings in Your Fingers

Acute pain in a women wrist.
Acute pain in a women wrist.

Tingling or numbness of fingers and toes can be a sign of diabetes. It can affect your balance, walking, and writing. The pain often keeps you up at night. The elevated blood sugar can damage the nerves, which prevents them from functioning well.  Usually, tingling or numbness is a sign that diabetes as been present for some time.

5

What You Should Do if You Notice These Signs

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should check with your doctor.  Diabetes is very easy to diagnose — a simple blood test can give you the answer in a very short time.  You don't even have to be fasting anymore to get a test. It's simple, easy and insurance generally covers it.