Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

What are type 2 diabetes symptoms and how do you get diagnosed? What's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes symptoms?

Most of the time the symptoms of diabetes type 1 and 2 are very similar. The differences depend on how advanced type 2 diabetes is, whether the pancreas is still producing insulin or has stopped doing so.

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

  • Increased urination, often at night - This is the result of the body trying to remove the excess glucose from the bloodstream.
  • Increased thirst - When blood glucose is not being controlled adequately the body increases the elimination of urine to try to remove it from the body - resulting in constant thirst.
  • Increased appetite - The body is not absorbing the glucose from foods properly, so you feel hungry all the time.
  • Fatigue - With the body cells starved of glucose, even the simplest tasks can feel exhausting.
  • Gaining weight - This tends to happen when the pancreas still produces insulin but the cells are non responsive to it. To compensate for the fact that sugar is not getting into the cells, the pancreas keeps increasing the production of insulin. Any glucose that cannot get into the cells is converted into fat by insulin. So more insulin is produced, more sugar is turned into fat, hence the weight gain.
  • Weight loss without dieting - This happens when the pancreas stops producing insulin (either in type 1 diabetes or later stages of type 2). Since glucose is not being absorbed, the body resorts to mobilizing fat stores to produce energy and so the diabetic loses weight.
  • Blurred vision - The shape of the lens of the eye may alter, affecting vision.
  • Cuts and sores that heal very slowly - The high levels of sugar constantly in the blood and urine impair the body's ability to repair and heal itself.
  • Inability to perceive sweet tastes - This might explain why diabetic people may find it difficult to comply with the dietary aspects of treatment, they genuinely believe that what they're eating is not that sweet!

How to Diagnose Diabetes

Apart from these type 2 diabetes symptoms, in order to diagnose the condition, the doctor will have to do some blood tests.

What the Blood Tests Mean


  • Your blood glucose level is 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) - or 11.1 millimoles per liter (mmol/l) - or higher, regardless of the time of day or whether you're fasting, or
  • Your blood glucose level is 126 mg/dl (7.0 mmol/l) or higher after 8-hour fast and
  • If these results are confirmed by a similar testing on a separate day...

...you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

In some cases, they may want to perform a glucose tolerance test, in which you drink a syrup containing 75 g. of glucose. If your blood glucose is 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) or higher 2 hours later, your doctor will diagnose diabetes.

Normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dl (5.6 mmol/l). After a 2-hour glucose tolerance test, the value should be less than 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/l).

If your values are above the normal limit but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes, your doctor will diagnose you with pre-diabetes, which normally develops into diabetes.

Other Symptoms of Diabetes

People with diabetes are subject to episodes of both high and low blood sugar.

The symptoms of hyperglycemia (too much glucose in the blood) often include: fatigue, a constant need to urinate, extreme thirst, constantly feeling hungry, loss of weight ad problems with eyesight.

Episodes of hypoglycemia (less than normal amounts of glucose in the blood), which can strike suddenly, can be caused by a missed meal, too much exercise, or a reaction to too much insulin (of course, if you are on insulin).

The initial signs of hypoglycemia are hunger, dizziness, sweating, confusion, palpitations, and numbness or tingling of the lips.

If not treated, the individual may go on to experience double vision, trembling and disorientation, may act strangely and may eventually lapse into a coma. Needless to point out that this is a very serious condition.

Insulin Resistance

Type 2 diabetes can sneak up on you. You may not have diabetes now, but you could be on the verge of developing it. How do you know?

As we've seen, being overweight can be a formidable threat. But even if you are normal weight, you may have insulin resistance, or insulin sensitivity as it is called.

What does it mean? It means that your insulin is no longer able to perform as it should.

Insulin resistance is a hallmark sign of Type 2 diabetes; it's also common in obesity. It usually exists in people who are diagnosed with diabetes a decade or so later.

This is how it happens. Your cells become sluggish and inefficient in responding to insulin's instructions to take up glucose.

Your pancreas, then, has to churn out more insulin constantly to keep blood sugar normal. Tired and overworked, the pancreas may finally become exhausted and unable to produce enough insulin. And this is when you usually develop clear type 2 diabetes symptoms.

But insulin resistance comes with its own set of signs and symptoms:

sings and symptoms of insulin resistance

Even if you may have inherited a predisposition to insulin resistance, at any point during this process you can revert the symptoms by dramatically changing your diet, as the next few pages will discuss.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

The major danger with diabetes is not the disease itself, but the complications that can arise if insulin levels are not maintained at a constant level.

Untreated diabetes can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This condition occurs when the body is so low in insulin that it starts using stored fat and proteins as fuel.

When the fat and proteins break down they start to produce substances known as ketones as a by-product - some people try to achieve the same result with low-carb high-protein diets in an effort to reduce weight.

In large quantities, ketones can cause the body to become excessively acidic. Ketoacidosis is most often seen in people with type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms include nausea, difficulty breathing, sweet breath and confusion that can progress to coma.

Hyperosmolar Syndrome

Another complication of untreated diabetes is hyperosmolar syndrome. This condition is a combination of very high blood sugar levels (but without the presence of ketones) and dehydration.

It's more common in older people with type 2 diabetes who are taking steroid medications. The condition may also be prompted by stress from a major illness.

With hyperosmolar syndrome, blood sugar levels are so high that the blood thickens. Symptoms include confusion, tiredness and coma.

Hyperosmolar syndrome can sometimes be the first indication of diabetes in older adults.


It's important to point out that both DKA and hyperosmolar syndrome are very serious conditions that require the immediate attention of a physician.

So if you suspect to have type 2 diabetes symptoms you need to have it immediately checked out. Do not ignore them and don't wait until the situation becomes desperate.

The Good News

Don't be discouraged if you feel you have type 2 diabetes symptoms.

You can be confident that if you work along with your doctor and implement the information you find on these pages, you have a very good chance of keeping your type 2 diabetes symptoms under control.

And sometimes, if you make the right changes, you can even reverse the problem! The road to high blood sugar is a two-way street. When you change your diet and make other lifestyle changes, a rising glucose level can fall. If you are on medications, you can stop taking them and if you are on insulin you may be able to reduce the amount you need to inject.

Sometimes that change can be so dramatic that no doctor looking at you afterward would ever guess that you once had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

So take control of your life now!

Click on NEXT to read about the Diet for Type 2 Diabetes of go back to the Treatment of Diabetes main page to select another article.


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