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What are the Early Symptoms of Adult Onset Diabetes?

written by: Margo • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 8/5/2010

Knowing the early symptoms of adult onset diabetes, or type II diabetes, can make it easier to catch the early warning signs and make the changes necessary to get your diabetes under control. Learn which symptoms to watch for here.

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    Adult onset, or Type 2, diabetes is caused by the body's inability to correctly process sugar, or glucose. Normally, your body can handle extra sugar, but with adult onset diabetes, your body is not producing, or has become resistant to, insulin, the chemical that helps to remove sugar from the body. It can be hard to detect the early symptoms of adult onset diabetes because they are very common, and can be linked to several different ailments. Knowing what these symptoms are can alert you to a potential diabetes problem before the condition becomes more advanced.

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    Thirst and Frequent Urination

    Glucose draws water out of the cells of the body as it travels through the blood stream, leading to frequent urination. This can make the body dehydrated, and lead to an increase in thirst. These two symptoms are often one of the first clues that a person has developed diabetes. Waking up several times in the middle of the night to urinate or to get a drink of water is very common in people with undiagnosed diabetes.

    Adult onset diabetes is not the only cause of these symptoms. Increased thirst could also be caused by an increase in the environmental temperature (such as during the summer), or by becoming more physically active. It can also accompany a loss of blood or other bodily fluids, due to an injury or illness. Frequent urination could be caused by medications (such as a diuretic) or simply because a person has begun drinking fluids on a more regular basis. These other potential causes make it very easy to miss the possibility of diabetes.

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    Appetite Changes

    Another potential symptom of Type 2 diabetes is a change in appetite. Some people find themselves eating more food, while others begin to eat much less during the course of the day. Weight changes, with or without an appetite change, are also common early symptoms. Like thirst and frequent urination, however, these symptoms are easy to attribute to other causes, such as stress or illness. It is hard to immediately relate them to a potential case of diabetes without visiting a doctor for bloodwork.

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    Other Symptoms

    Other possible early symptoms of adult onset diabetes include blurred vision, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and irritability. You may also notice that you get gum, bladder or skin infections more often, and that you take longer to heal from even minor injuries. Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet may also be a symptom. Men may experience erectile dysfunction.

    If you have a family history of diabetes, if you are overweight, over 45, or have a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you are at a higher risk of developing adult onset diabetes. Watch for these common early symptoms; if you suspect that you might have diabetes, it is important to get tested as soon as possible.

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    References

    Diabetes Network: Type II Diabetes, Accessed from: http://www.diabetesnet.com/diabetes_types/diabetes_type_2.php

    American Diabetes Association: Symptoms, Accecced from: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/symptoms/

    Medline Plus: Type II Diabetes, Accessed from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000313.htm