Thirst is common with type 2 diabetes—in fact, it can be a sign of at least eight medical problems. You may notice that no amount of water can quench your thirst. That’s due to rising blood sugar levels, which forces your kidneys to get hard at work trying to filter out the excess sugar by ramping up urine production, says Eckert-Norton. You’ll pee more, which can potentially lead to dehydration, and you’ll want to drink more, too. If you notice that you’re running to the bathroom all day or are excessively thirsty (or dealing with a dry mouth), talk to your doctor about your glucose levels.
A more advanced complication of type 2 diabetes is nerve damage, a condition called peripheral diabetic neuropathy. You may feel tingling or pins and needles in your feet, pain or numbness and weakness, according to the American Diabetes Association. Eckert-Norton says that it presents in a “stocking, glove” pattern. “Where your socks go on, peripheral neuropathy happens first, and it eventually gets to your fingertips later on,” she says. Keeping blood glucose levels on target is key to lessening pain and numbness.
While shaving your face you get a tiny cut that seems to linger forever. “When your sugars are on their way up, it may take longer for a cut to heal,” explains Eckert-Norton. You may also notice more shaving bumps and white heads in your hair follicles in your beard. The sebaceous oil glands in your face are also vulnerable to low-grade infections that you’re at risk for when you have type 2 diabetes, she says. Check out these smart and safe hygiene habits all men should follow.
There are many warning signs that you could be developing type 2 diabetes, including erectile dysfunction. When you have uncontrolled blood sugar, however, you’re at risk for a condition called balanitis. (Blood sugar in your urine provides an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to grow.) Symptoms include swelling of the foreskin and tip of the penis, and it may be painful or you could experience a discharge. See your doctor, who will instruct you on the best way to keep the area clean and may recommend treatment with an anti-fungal or antibiotic cream (depending on the source of the problem).
Your skin is a window into the health of your insides—check out all the conditions your skin can reveal. Diabetes is no exception. The back of your neck, groin, or underarms may look “dirty,” but the dark, velvety patches in these areas are actually a symptom of insulin resistance. It’s called acanthosis nigricans (AN). “The hormones involved in insulin resistance are also thought to contribute to the skin condition,” says Margaret Eckert-Norton, RN, PhD, CDE, chair of the Endocrine Society‘s Advocacy and Public Outreach Core Committee and associate professor at St. Joseph’s College in New York City. “It’s something that tends to happen gradually over the years,” she adds. Treatment for AN involves addressing the underlying cause—in this case, regaining control over blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and you’re looking to reverse, check out this step-by-step plan.