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Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Many people have no signs or symptoms. Symptoms can also be so mild that you might not even notice them. Five million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes and do not know it. Here is what to look for:

Sometimes people have symptoms but do not suspect diabetes. They delay scheduling a checkup because they do not feel sick. Many people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes complications, such as blurry vision or heart trouble. It is important to find out early if you have diabetes because treatment can prevent damage to the body from diabetes.

Should You be tested for diabetes?

If you are 45 years old or older, you need to get tested for diabetes, even if you do not have any of the risk factors listed below. If you are younger than 45 and have one or more risk factors, you should also get tested. Ask your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test. The results of this blood test will tell your doctor how much glucose is in your blood. Your doctor may ask you to have the test twice.

Even if your blood glucose level is normal and you have no risk factors, if you are over 45, you may need to remind your doctor to check your blood glucose again in 3 years. If you have at least one of the risk factors below, have your blood checked more frequently.

What does it mean to be at risk for type 2 diabetes?

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You are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, are overweight, are inactive, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. You are also at high risk if diabetes runs in your family or if you are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

What are my risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes?

To find out your risk for type 2 diabetes, check each item that applies to you:

I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
My family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander.
I have had gestational diabetes or I gave birth to at least one baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
I have been told that my blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. In other words, I have impaired glucose tolerance or an impaired fasting glucose level.
I am overweight. My weight is at least 20 percent higher than it should be for my height. (See the body mass index table.)
I am fairly inactive. I exercise fewer than three times a week.
My blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or I have been told that I have high blood pressure.
My cholesterol levels are not normal. My LDL cholesterol is higher than 100; my HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) is 35 or lower; or my triglyceride level is 250 or higher.

If you checked one or more boxes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. If you checked more than three boxes, your chances of getting diabetes are high. It is important to lower your risk by working on the factors under your control.