Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Posted on August 13, 2018

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes vary in each individual and by how advanced the condition is. In prediabetes or early diabetes, symptoms may be barely noticeable or may be confused with other health conditions, the effects of stress, or changes associated with normal aging. As insulin resistance increases, high blood glucose progressively damages nerves, blood vessels, and organs, and symptoms worsen and impact quality of life more severely.

Because early symptoms of type 2 diabetes may not be noticeable, routine screenings are recommended for people age 45 and older and people of any age with obesity and risk factors such as a family history of diabetes or a history of gestational diabetes. The earlier type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis is.

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes may not experience every symptom, or even most of them.

Common symptoms include:

  • Intense hunger
  • Intense thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Slowed healing
  • Peripheral neuropathy (numbness, pain, or weakness in the hands or feet)
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Itching
  • Acanthosis nigricans (Darker patches of skin)

Depression and anxiety are common with type 2 diabetes, as with all chronic illnesses. It is common for people with type 2 diabetes to have additional health problems such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high blood cholesterol or triglycerides, chronic kidney disease, and heart failure.

Complications of type 2 diabetes

If blood glucose levels are not maintained within a healthy range, damage progresses and causes serious complications including:

  • Blindness
  • Foot ulcers (open sores), numbness, and poor circulation that can lead to gangrene and necessitate amputation
  • Kidney failure that may lead to the need for dialysis
  • Autonomic neuropathy (nerve damage that can cause bladder problems, sexual dysfunction, and diarrhea)
  • Bacterial infections of the skin including boils, carbuncles (deep infections), styes in the eyelid, and nail bed infections
  • Diabetic blisters (painless and fluid-filled)
  • Gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) that can cause heartburn, reflux, and abdominal bloating

Diabetes treatments and lifestyle changes can help keep blood glucose within the normal range, slow the progress of the disease, and manage symptoms.

What are the early signs of type 2 diabetes?

In a survey of almost 16,000 people with diabetes or a high risk for diabetes, 44 percent of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes reported that they did not notice any of the most common symptoms within the past year. The most frequently reported symptoms among all groups were increased urination and fatigue. However, 70 percent of respondents did not report experiencing either of these two symptoms.


External resources

DiabetesTeam resources


What symptoms lead to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is not based on symptoms, but on blood tests that show blood glucose levels. Read more about the how type 2 diabetes is diagnosed.

At what age do most people first experience type 2 diabetes symptoms?

Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in people age 45 or older. However, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children and young adults, mostly in those who are overweight or obese.

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