Check if you have type 2 diabetes
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- feeling thirsty all the time
- feeling very tired
- losing weight without trying to
- itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- blurred vision
You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:
- are over 40 (or 25 for south Asian people)
- have a close relative with diabetes (such as a parent, brother or sister)
- are overweight or obese
- are of Asian, African-Caribbean or black African origin (even if you were born in the UK)
Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed following blood or urine tests for something else.
However, you should see a GP straight away if you have any symptoms of diabetes.
To find out if you have type 2 diabetes, you usually have to go through the following steps:
- See a GP about your symptoms.
- The GP will check your urine and arrange a blood test to check your blood sugar levels. It usually takes about 1 to 2 days for the results to come back.
- If you have diabetes, the GP will explain the test results and what will happen next.
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes
What the GP will discuss with you during your appointment depends on the diagnosis and the treatment they recommend.
Generally, they’ll talk to you about:
- what diabetes is
- what high blood sugar means for your health
- whether you need to take medicine
- your diet and exercise
- your lifestyle – for example, alcohol and smoking
If you have questions about your diagnosis
It’s usually difficult to take in everything the GP tells you during the appointment.
Talk to family and friends about what the GP told you, and write down any questions you have.
Then make another GP appointment and take your list of questions with you.
There’s also a lot of information on diabetes available.
What happens after the diagnosis
Usually, the following things happen after your diagnosis:
- The GP may prescribe medicine. It might take time for you to get used to the medicine and to find the right doses for you.
- You will usually need to make changes to your diet and be more active.
- You’ll have to go for regular type 2 diabetes check-ups.
- You’ll have to look out for certain signs to avoid other health problems.
A free education course for type 2 diabetes can help you manage your condition.
Most people need medicine to control their type 2 diabetes.
This helps keep your blood sugar level as normal as possible to prevent health problems.
You may have to take it for the rest of your life, although your medicine or dose may need to change over time.
Adjusting your diet and being active is usually also necessary to keep your blood sugar level down.
Medicines for type 2 diabetes
There are many types of medicine for type 2 diabetes. It can take time to find a medicine and dose that’s right for you.
You’ll usually be offered a medicine called metformin first.
You may need to take extra medicines, or a different medicine such as insulin, if:
- treatment is not keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range
- you have heart problems or need to lose weight
Your GP or diabetes nurse will recommend the medicines most suitable for you.
Your medicine might not make you feel any different, but this does not mean it’s not working. It’s important to keep taking it to help prevent future health problems.
Metformin is the most common medicine for type 2 diabetes. It can help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.
It comes as tablets you take with or after meals.
Common side effects of metformin include feeling or being sick and diarrhoea. If this happens to you, your doctor may suggest trying a different type called slow-release metformin.