When I was diagnosed, I had no idea what hit me. I thought that diseases should have symptoms, obvious and painful ones at that. That’s how the body works, right? I assumed that before it breaks down, it gives you a chance to fight back by letting you know what’s going on. Hence, when my GP told me I have Type 2 diabetes, I was flabbergasted because I did not have symptoms at all (or so I thought). But, after I started reading about diabetes, I realized that I did have symptoms. It’s just that I did not pay attention to them because they were mild and, frankly, not threatening at all.
The more common symptoms of diabetes include:
- frequent urination
- increased thirst
- unexplained weight loss
- slow healing of wounds
- blurred vision
These symptoms are not attention grabbing, the way pain, rashes, chills or fevers are. So, many people ignore them. It’s not that people don’t care, but that the symptoms are easily explained.
Take my case. In 2007, I ran a marathon in February, continued running through summer, and was diagnosed in September. This was how I rationalized my symptoms before my diagnosis:
- I was always thirsty because I ran so much that my body needed water.
- I peed so much because I was drinking so much water. But that was good because I was flushing waste products out of my system, and I knew this because my pee was so clear.
- I was always tired because I worked hard, did sports, and was busy with other things.
- I lost a bit of weight because I just finished training for a marathon and continued to run.
- My wounds healed slowly because I was getting old.
- As for blurred vision, I’ve had bad eyesight from birth. I started wearing eyeglasses at the age of four. It was not an issue.
I explained away all the symptoms despite the fact that Type 2 diabetes runs in my family, and my father was diagnosed a few years before I was. This shows you how much I knew, which was not much.
The other main issue with Type 2 diabetes is that many people do not (repeat, do not) exhibit symptoms for many years, if at all, until they start developing complications.
If you exhibit these symptoms, go see your doctor. If you are at risk, even if you show no symptoms, it is a good idea to get your blood glucose checked regularly.