Watching for the warning signs of type 2 diabetes

Written by: Professor Luigi Gnudi
Published: | Updated: 25/05/2023
Edited by: Emily Lawrenson

Diabetes is on the rise, and is the fastest growing health threat in the UK, with an estimated 4.5 million people living with the condition. In those with diabetes, an estimated 90% have type 2 diabetes, which can cause serious health problems such as vision loss, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, and depression.


Our understanding of how best to manage type 2 diabetes has changed in recent years, with research showing that significant lifestyle changes, and not just medication, can help individuals to take control of their diabetes and possibly even reverse it. While diabetes doesn’t always show symptoms as it develops, it is important to be aware of the warning signs that do sometimes present, as treating and controlling diabetes early on can help to prevent complications, which are often serious in nature. We spoke to expert diabetes physician Professor Luigi Gnudi who talked us through some of the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and what you can do to help take control from the very beginning.


How do I know if I have type 2 diabetes?

Recognising the symptoms of type 2 diabetes is not as simple as it sounds – you don’t wake up one day suddenly feeling exhausted, with a terrible temper, and thirsty, but needing to pee all the time. Diabetes doesn’t present itself overnight, and symptoms are both subtle and gradual in nature. Learning how to notice them, and recognising when you should seek medical advice, could very much help an earlier diagnosis, and thus earlier treatment.



Feeling constantly tired

Feeling tired isn’t exactly exclusive to diabetes – many of us burn the candle at both ends in our modern, busy lives – but it’s important to pay attention to exactly how long you’ve been feeling tired. Constant fatigue can be an indicator of diabetes, as a result of your body not being able to utilise glucose for energy.    



Being irritable, grumpy, and moody

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body’s cells do not respond well to insulin. This can result in elevated blood glucose levels, which can make you feel generally unwell, both in body and mind. High blood glucose levels can be associated with symptoms that are similar to depression, causing you to feel like you just don’t want to do anything except stay at home and sleep, or feel short-tempered and grumpy. Once blood glucose levels are normalised, these symptoms improve.



Going to the toilet more frequently

With diabetes, there is more glucose in the bloodstream, as a result of the body not being able to take it up into cells to be used for energy. Your body copes with this by flushing out the glucose in urine, which means you may feel that you need to visit the bathroom more frequently. If you drink a lot of fluid to combat this, it may feel like your bathroom trips are a direct result, but a definite red flag is when the need to pee keeps you up at night, or causes you to wake frequently. Usually people wake up only once or twice during the night, so watch how often you’re getting up to go to the loo.



Feeling thirsty

High glucose levels lead to you passing more urine.  This can lead to dehydration that in turn leads to increased thirst.  In this situation it is important to drink water to quench thirst, as drinking sugary drinks just increases the blood glucose level still further, causing more urination and more thirst.



Slower healing wounds

The high blood glucose in your system has a direct result on your immune system, which helps your body to heal naturally. This can cause wounds to heal more slowly, or bruises to stick around for longer than usual.



More frequent infections

In women, urinary tract infections and yeast infections can be a sign of diabetes, due to higher levels of glucose in the urine. This increases the level of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, meaning infection is more likely to occur and reoccur. If these infections come back time and time again, your GP may decide that a diabetes check is in order, to rule out the possibility.


Other symptoms of diabetes to watch out for include:



When should I visit my GP?

If you have a family history of diabetes, or have risk factors for the condition, such as being overweight, it’s best to be checked out on a regular basis. However, if you’ve been feeling under the weather and have experienced some of the symptoms listed for a period of time, it is always best to get yourself checked out for diabetes and have a simple blood test which can diagnose diabetes. Pay attention to your body and don’t ignore the signs - earlier diagnosis of diabetes means earlier control, and a better chance of staying healthy.   



If you're looking to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, arrange a consultation with Mr Gnudi via his Top Doctors profile.  

By Professor Luigi Gnudi
Endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism

Professor Luigi Gnudi is a leading, award-winning consultant diabetologist and endocrinologist based in central London who specialises in diabetes, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism alongside obesity, amenorrhoea and lipid disorders. He privately practises at The Lister Hospital, London Claremont Clinic and Italian Doctors clinic while his NHS base is Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. 

Professor Gnudi, who further treats an extensive list of endocrinology conditions including menopause, Graves' disease and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is highly qualified with MD and PhD awards. He also has FRCP FASN and FICP fellowships from London, Italy and the United States. He obtained his MD with Honours from the University of Parma and then joined the residency programme at the School of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Padua where he completed his specialist training in 1993.

Professor Gnudi also worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Hospital at Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, from 1992 to 1995. In 1999, he obtained his PhD in Endocrinological Sciences from Milan University in Italy, and in 2005 he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the American Society of Nephrology. 

Professor Gnudi, who is the head of the Metabolic Medicine, Professor of Diabetes and Metabolic Medicine within the School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine & Sciences at King's College London, speaks frequently at national and international meetings. He is active researcher and also has had over 100 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

He is the subject editor for various peer-reviewed journals too, and is a member of several professional organisations. These include Diabetes UK, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association. He's also a member of the American Society of Nephrology, the European Diabetic Nephropathy Study Group and ERA-EDTA.

The awards for his research include The Diabetes Research Excellence Award from the American University of Beirut, the Ruth Osterby Price Lecture, the Prof M. Viswanathan Honour Award Oration, and the Candlelight Lecture.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Alopecia
    Eating disorders
    Erectile dysfunction
    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    Hypertension (high blood pressure)
    Disorder of sexual desire of man
    Clinical nutrition
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.