The Center for Disease Control reports that about 8.1 million people in the United States are unaware that they have diabetes mellitus. This could be due to failure in recognition of the red flags of diabetes or the fact that development of symptoms in this form of disease takes years to appear. It could also be attributed to failure to make regular visits to a physician since most people make a visit to the doctor’s office only when they feel sick.
People with Type 2 diabetes usually experience excessive thirst. This is linked to presence of high amounts of glucose in blood. How the body handles fluids in the body can be likened to a science experiment performed in elementary school all the time. A peeled potato is fashioned into some sort of bowl and a solution containing salt poured inside it. It’s then placed in a large bowl of dilute water and left to stand for a while. It’s usually amazing how the water seeps and soon fills the ‘potato bowl’. The fluid compartments in the body function is a similar manner. Fluid will be drawn from the cells due to the high concentration of sugar in blood. This triggers the thirst mechanism.
Excessive urination is another sign of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Individuals usually produce large amounts of very dilute urine. In the event of hyperglycemia the body tries its best to get rid of the excess glucose via urine. The urine from these people contains glucose. In doing so these individuals get dehydrated and this contributes to the feeling of excessive thirst experienced by these diabetics.
The other spectrum of signs and symptom I related to the failure of cells in the body to uptake the glucose due to the insuln deficiency. Such are; fatigue, unexplained weight loss and increased hunger. Insulin is required to ‘push’ glucose into the cells. The resulting scenario is a state of very high blood glucose which cannot be driven into the cells where it is required. This has several ramifications. First it triggers a feeling of hunger because the cells are not receiving enough glucose. If the cells do not get the glucose they require lipids and proteins are broken down to provide the energy. This is what leads to the weight loss observed in these individuals. Fatigue results from the inadequate glucose deficiency suffered by these cells.
In the advanced stages signs of organ damage may be present. Such may be visual disturbances, loss of sensation on the peripheries especially the lower limbs. These result from microvascular damage. If the damage occurs in the eyes, the patients may then present with diminishing vision. If it’s the small blood vessels of the lower limbs that are affected, the diabetic may experience tingling sensations or loss of the same altogether. Damage to large blood vessels may lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and even strokes.
In the setting of Type 2 diabetes signs and symptoms are not a superior way of telling if you have the disease. This is because it is usually asymptomatic in the early stages. By the time it becomes symptomatic the disease has progressed and damage to several organs may have already commenced.