In 2015, 30.2 million American adults had diabetes, but only 23 million knew they had it, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How can you be living with diabetes and not know it? Easy: Oftentimes you are totally asymptomatic.
“Either someone has no symptoms at all, or the symptoms are not causing that much difference” from what is normal for them, says Cleveland Clinic endocrinologist Leann Olansky, MD.
This often happens because type 2 diabetes is caused by elevated levels of blood sugar, and if your blood sugar levels rise slowly over time, you may not have or notice symptoms, explains David Nathan, MD, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center.
However, there are warning signs you can be aware of that may indicate you have type 2 diabetes. If you experience any of the following symptoms, see your doctor. “It’s important to get diagnosed as early as possible, not only because of the risk of microvascular complications [nerve, kidney, and retina damage] but also the risk of heart disease” associated with type 2 diabetes, Dr. Olansky says. “A major killer of people with diabetes is heart disease.”