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Type 2 diabetes - Symptoms and risks

Many people have Type 2 diabetes without realising it.

This is because:

  • symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell
  • some people do not have symptoms
  • symptoms may not appear for some time

The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment lowers your risk of other health problems.

Common signs and symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of undiagnosed or poorly managed Type 2 diabetes include:

  • feeling thirsty all the time - drinking excessive amounts of liquids or unable to quench your thirst
  • peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • feeling tired, lack of energy, sleeping more than usual
  • losing weight without trying to
  • frequent infections, cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • numbness, pain or tingling in your hands or feet
  • blurred vision
  • itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush

Risks of developing Type 2 diabetes

You're more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you:

  • are over 45
  • have a close relative with diabetes such as a parent, brother or sister
  • are an adult who is overweight or obese
  • have a diagnosis of pre-diabetes
  • had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • are physically inactive - for example, if you take less than 30 minutes of physical activity most days
  • have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
  • have a history of heart disease
  • have a medical condition that requires long-term steroid use
  • are a member of the travelling community
  • are of south Asian, Chinese, Hispanic, African Caribbean or black African origin
  • have haemochromatosis - storing too much iron in your body
  • are a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Check your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) on the Safe food website . You could also ask your GP or practice nurse to measure it for you.

See a GP if:

  • you have any of the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes
  • you're worried you may have a higher risk of getting it

Your GP can diagnose diabetes. They may check your urine and will arrange a blood test to check your blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Read more about diagnosing Type 2 diabetes

Read more about treatment for Type 2 diabetes

page last reviewed: 22/10/2020
next review due: 22/10/2023

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