Diabetes Type 2

Early signs and symptoms

Before being diagnosed, many of those we interviewed experienced classic symptoms of diabetes such as extreme tiredness, increased thirst, frequent trips to the toilet, weight loss, profuse sweating, and itching, burning or pain in their extremities. Other signs of diabetes included urinary tract infections, problems with eyesight, painful feet and loss of libido or interest in sex. 

When people we spoke to went to the GP for check-ups, most were given the diagnosis quite quickly once urine and blood tests had been taken and analysed. People who already knew a little about diabetes because it was in their families were more likely to recognise symptoms such as extreme thirst and needing to go to the toilet. 

Not everyone recognised that what they were experiencing were the symptoms of diabetes. Some people had linked constant tiredness with their hectic lifestyle or working too hard; some women had linked symptoms such as sweating with the menopause. 

Even some people who worked in healthcare and therefore knew about diabetes still failed to make the connection. 

Certain symptoms, such as itching, did not seem very important or were so random that people did not connect them with diabetes. 

Sometimes people had not experienced or noticed they had any symptoms at all and talked about how their diabetes was discovered by chance, for example when they were having hospital tests for other ailments.

Some people may continue to be unaware of the symptoms of diabetes even after they have been diagnosed. 

Last reviewed March 2016.
Last updated March 2016.

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