Six in 10 people don’t have any symptoms when they’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. A lot of people don’t get any symptoms or don’t even notice them. It means that on average, some people can live with Type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years before being diagnosed.
Common early symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, feeling tired and hungry, vision problems and slow wound healing.
When we don’t see these symptoms, how else could we know if we’re at risk? Here’s 5 warning signs that you could identify and therefore know when to ask for help.
1. Night time Hunger
Poor sleep hygiene is a trait of many parents like me, but it’s not always our children and little ‘sleep thieves’ that cause us to miss out on quality sleep each night. There are many reasons why we cannot get a restful sleep but waking up starving in the middle of the night with no energy could also be an indication of type 2 diabetes.
I hear the stories of my friends who have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes and they wake up during the early hours feeling ravenous. A tendency that often leads to the kitchen to snack or raid the fridge to satisfy night-time hunger. Neither are habits that are good for your health.
A smart tip to combat this dawn phenomenon is to eat a bedtime snack. Try a high-fibre, low-fat option, like whole-wheat crackers with cheese, an apple with peanut butter, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices or a handful of nuts are all good choices. These foods will keep your blood sugar steady and keep you feeling full for longer overnight. Otherwise, your blood sugar may continue to crash overnight, and you'll potentially get stuck in the same cycle of waking, feeling hungry and wanting to eat again.
2. Struggling with weight loss
Weight-loss is a lifestyle battle for many of us, especially now we can see our post-holiday waistlines. Many diets end up as a story of yo-yo weight loss, having to go the extra mile to get the result we want, then suffering with emptiness and having to fight off the hunger pangs. The end result is that as soon as we start eating normally, we sadly pile all the weight back on again. What may surprise you, is that struggling with hunger from weight loss can be a sign or risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another warning sign is increasing belly fat, especially when you are relatively slim elsewhere. I’m always choosing low fat meals, but still not losing weight around the waist. Though what I’ve learnt is to take a second look at foods that are labelled as ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ – they can often be high in carbohydrates and sugars instead, neither being any more helpful in weight loss.
Regardless of your BMI, studies have shown that people with a large waist (over 40 inches/102cm for men and over 34.5 inches/88cm for women) have a similar risk of developing type 2 diabetes to those who are clinically obese.
3. The Afternoon Slump
Going back to work following the Summer holidays is hard enough, but like me, you may also feel you hit the ‘wall’ in the afternoon – another warning sign to look out for. This “carb crash” can leave you feeling lethargic and struggling to stay awake at your desk.
If you’re like me, your lunch is likely based around a ‘meal deal’ from the local deli or shops. You can feel great after polishing off this carb-laden lunch of a sandwich, crisps and a fizzy drink. Though hours later, when your blood sugar levels come crashing down, you will feel that sudden bout of extreme tiredness, often warning signs of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. What is worse, is that we usually respond to this afternoon slump by reaching for the tea and biscuits for the cycle to start all over again!
If you are experiencing afternoon tiredness or falling asleep after eating, this can be a warning sign. It's not just 'sugars' you need to avoid, diabetes is an inability to process glucose properly. Carbohydrates convert to glucose in the body, so it makes sense to reduce the amount of carbohydrates that you eat too.
The main carbs to avoid or reduce are the complex or starchy carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, starchy root veg and also any flour based products. These starchy carbs all convert 100% to glucose in the body and can make blood sugar levels spike and then crash in a short amount of time. Some good options to help you get through the day would be apples, nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, pistachios, or hummus with celery sticks.
4. Aches and Pains
Getting old is hard enough to accept, but even more so when your suffering from a growing number of aches and pains. Research shows that even arthritis can be the result of poor diets that include too much sugar and carbs. What you may not know is that the consumption of foods high in sugar can cause inflammation and most forms of joint pain and muscle aches involve inflammation. Even if pain is the result of trauma from an injury, your symptoms may be exacerbated and prolonged by your diet, a sure warning sign that you are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Luke McCall, Sports Therapist at Pall Mall Medical said: “I see patients regularly who are struggling to recover from injury or suffering from unexplained aches and pains. Whether you’re trying to get fit, enjoy the gym or just playing football with your mates - poor dietary control is often a trigger for ongoing joint inflammation. Getting your exercise right, alongside better dietary management, can mean a faster recovery and getting back to what you love without pain.”
5. Low Moods
Now summer is all but over, we’ve put our holiday clothes to the bottom of the drawers and our kids are heading back to school. Though for some of us, we may be feeling those post-holiday blues. That may be feeling fed up, tired or even guilty from over-indulgence over the Summer break.
There are many reasons for low mood and lethargy, but one of those can be a sign of type 2 diabetes – that is from eating lots of foods containing carbs and sugar. We all know how easy it is when on holiday to forget our diets and choose those sugary drinks, ice-creams and chips, to name a few!
Dr Matteo Ria, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Pall Mall Medical said: “Low mood and lethargy at the end of Summer is common, but not always caused by mental health issues. Changing your eating habits and consuming fewer carbs can break the cycle of suffering from low self-esteem or mood when there is a dietary cause. Most patients cannot believe how much better they feel after just a few weeks of dietary change.”
If you would like to book an appointment for a blood test or to see a GP, please contact Pall Mall Medical by calling 03300 58 44 55 or email email@example.com
There are NO waiting lists and you DON'T need a referral letter from the NHS at Pall Mall Medical. We offer a simple call and book system for all self-funding and medically insured patients.