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Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

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Symptoms of type 2 diabetes do not start as suddenly as symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Symptoms may not show up for many years meaning the disease may have been hurting the body before a person realizes it.

Symptoms may include:

  • intense thirst,
  • hunger,
  • fatigue,
  • frequent urination,
  • blurred vision

and can also include

  • frequent infections and
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.

Speak to your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.

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Signs of diabetes are different than symptoms of diabetes. Signs are objective measures which may include:

  • high blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels 


How do I know if I may be at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Although it is not known for sure what causes type 2 diabetes, heredity and unhealthy lifestyles resulting in obesity are contributing factors. Other risk factors include:

  • Being 40 years of age or older
  • Having a family history (mother, father, brother, sister) of type 2 diabetes
  • Being a member of a high-risk ethnic population. For example, being of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent
  • Being overweight, especially around the abdomen
  • Having a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or having given birth to a baby that is more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms)
  • Being diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes complications like eye, kidney or nerve problems or heart disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
  • Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Having been diagnosed with Acanthosis nigricans, which are darkened patches of skin
  • Having been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder
  • Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea
  • Having been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a doctor


How is diabetes diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a blood test. There are four different tests that can determine if you have diabetes. These tests and the values at which diabetes is diagnosed include:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (no food or drink for at least 8 hours): ≥ 7.0 mMol/L
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (blood test is done at fasting and 2 hours after a glucose drink): ≥ 11.1 mMol/L (2 hours after glucose drink)
  • A1C (average blood sugar values over the past 2-3 months): ≥6.5%
  • Random plasma glucose (taken any time): ≥ 11.1 mMol/L
type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured but it can be controlled. Your diabetes healthcare team will help identify healthy management goals for you, together with a recommended treatment program. This will include recommendations for healthy eating, regular physical activity, and regular blood glucose monitoring, often in conjunction with medications. Many people with diabetes live long, happy and productive lives.

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