By Diane Hwang
According to the American Diabetes Association (as of 2018), 34.2 million people (or 10.5% of the population of the US) have diabetes. Of those 34.2 million, 7.3 million are undiagnosed. That’s 24% of people living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
Having undiagnosed diabetes symptoms can be dangerous. Here is a look at the different kinds of diabetes, as well as the top 3 most common symptoms. If you or someone you know has these 3 symptoms, it’s time to visit the doctor.
What Are the Types of Diabetes?
Diabetes is divided into two types: Type 1 and Type 2. (We’ll get to the “what are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes” question for each type in a moment.)
Type 1 Diabetes
This type is an autoimmune disease that most people are born with. Unlike Type 2, Type 1 diabetes is not a result of lifestyle factors and cannot be prevented.
With Type 1 diabetes, a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin helps your body process glucose from the food you eat into energy. That glucose remains in the blood, causing elevated levels of blood sugar. To help mitigate this, Type 1 diabetics must take insulin shots.
It’s important to note that even though there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, individuals with this disease can live happy, healthy lives.
What are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes?
Most Type 1 diagnoses are in very young children (between the ages of 4 and 14). Unfortunately most diabetes symptoms are undiagnosed because they’re so common and can be the result of many health issues. Note that these 3 symptoms can also be indicators of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
1)Excessive thirst or hunger
In diabetics, the kidneys are working overtime to reduce the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. This results in frequent urination (another symptom) and excessive thirst to compensate. Similarly, the lack of insulin/the inability to use the insulin that is created by the body hinders the body’s ability to draw nutrients out of food. This can cause excessive hunger.
Young children are often thirsty and hungry, so even though this is part of answering “what are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes,” it can go unnoticed.
Frequent urination can result in bedwetting, especially for children. Again, this is unfortunately an issue that basically all children will encounter in their lifetime, especially at potty training age, so it’s a common undiagnosed diabetes symptom.
This is in direct relation to being unable to extract nutrients from food consumed. Even with frequent good night’s sleep, the body is unable to find the energy to be alert and awake. Children — especially teenagers — frequently complain of fatigue, making it another overlooked symptom.
Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is not only far more common but can also be treated with lifestyle and nutrition changes. So, what are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes? In addition to the Type 1 symptoms listed above:
Similar to excessive hunger and fatigue, weight loss is a result of the body’s inability to gain nutrients and energy from the food you consume. Unexplained weight loss (when other factors have been ruled out and/or in conjunction with Type 2 risk factors) can be a major undiagnosed diabetes symptom.
Excess sugar in the bloodstream can damage the sensitive vessels in your eyes, thus causing blurred vision. Again, this symptom can commingle with other causes, so it’s best to get checked by a doctor to rule out diabetes.
While the answer to “what are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes” is excessive thirst/hunger, frequent urination, and fatigue, one unique symptom to watch for is yeast infections. Not just in women either — excess sugar can prompt yeast to flourish in any moist area, including the armpits, mouth, and throat.
What Can You Do If You Notice Any of These Symptoms?
Your best course of action is to get your blood sugar levels checked at your doctor as soon as possible. Caught early enough, undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes can be treated with actions like:
- Weight loss (if overweight)
- Eating nutritious, balanced diet
- Minimize or remove refined sugars, oils, and flours
- Increased exercise
- Frequent at-home testing of insulin levels
So, what are the 3 most common symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes? Excessive thirst/hunger, fatigue, and frequent urination. See your doctor right away if you have these symptoms.