Diabetes symptoms can be detected early enough to make sure you go to the doctor before the situation gets serious.
Are you worried that you, your child or someone you know, may have diabetes? Most early diabetes symptoms are from higher-than-normal levels of glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood. It is very important for everyone to know these signs so you can catch the disease at an early stage. Having some of the signs of diabetes does not mean you definitely have the condition, but you should always let your doctor know if you are concerned.
Both types of diabetes have some of the same warning signs.
Excessive thirst and increased urination
Excessive thirst (also called polydipsia) and increased urination (also known as polyuria) are classic diabetes symptoms. When you have diabetes, excess sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood and your kidneys are forced to work overtime to filter and absorb the excess sugar. If your kidneys cannot keep up, the excess sugar is excreted into your urine, dragging along fluids from your tissues. This triggers more frequent urination, which leaves you dehydrated. As you drink more fluids, you will consequently urinate even more. The average person usually has to use the bathroom between four and seven times in 24 hours, but people with diabetes may go a lot more.
If you find you are regularly drinking more than 4 liters of fluids or more a day you may have polydipsia. A 2011 study showed that drinking about four or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day may protect against the development of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Researchers showed that people who drank more than 34 ounces of water a day were actually 21 percent less likely to develop high blood sugar than those who drank only 16 ounces or less a day.
An Insatiable Appetite
We all feel extra hungry sometimes but people with diabetes may have what seems like an “unquenchable” appetite. This can be an issue for many reasons, especially the fact that overeating can lead to obesity, which is dangerous for diabetics. Your body is supposed to convert the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. However, your cells need insulin to bring the glucose in. If your body does not produce enough or any insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin that your body makes, the glucose cannot get into them and you have no energy. Because diabetes messes with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, it causes your brain to think it is actually starving, when in fact, it is not. This can make you feel hungrier than usual.
Feeling Tired and Weak (Fatigue)
Diabetes results in the inability of sugar to reach the cells, which leaves them starving for energy, which leaves fatigued and feeling weak. In cases of diabetes, your body must also work overtime to compensate for the erratic sugar levels. Along with your kidneys having to work extra to rid themselves of this extra sugar, this can eventually take a toll on you. Many factors can contribute to fatigue. Dehydration from increased urination and your body’s inability to function properly are some of them – since your body is less able to use sugar for energy needs.
While feeling exhausted alone is not a sign of diabetes (there can be many reasons), if you find you are lacking energy and simply exhausted for no reason, you should speak to your doctor because it could be one of the diabetes symptoms.
While many people would not complain if they started to lose weight all of a sudden, unintentional weight loss that cannot be explained, is definitely a sign of diabetes. When you lose sugar through frequent urination, you also lose calories. At the same time, diabetes may keep the sugar from your food from reaching your cells — leading to constant hunger. The combined effect is potentially rapid weight loss, especially if you have type 1 diabetes. That is why weight loss of between 5-10 kg (11-22 lbs) in just a few weeks or months is something you should immediately speak to your doctor about. It can be very dangerous as the lack of blood sugar tricks your brain into thinking it is starving so to compensate, it starts to break down protein in your muscles, which causes the weight loss.
Diabetes symptoms may involve your vision. High levels of blood sugar pull fluid from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes. Changing fluid levels in your body could make the lenses in your eyes swell up, so they change shape and lose their ability to focus. Left untreated, diabetes can cause new blood vessels to form in your retina (the back part of your eye) and damage established vessels. For most people, these early changes do not cause vision problems. However, if these changes progress undetected, they can lead to vision loss and blindness.
Some other disturbing signs include:
Dry mouth and itchy skin
Because your body is using fluids to make pee, there is less moisture for other things. You could get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can make you itchy.
Both men and women with diabetes can get these. Yeast feeds on glucose, so having plenty around makes it thrive. Infections can grow in any warm, moist fold of skin, including:
- Between fingers and toes
- Under breasts
- In or around sex organs
Slow-Healing Sores or Cuts
Over time, high blood sugar can affect your blood flow and cause nerve damage that makes it hard for your body to heal wounds.
Pain or Numbness in your Feet or Legs
By Anastasia T.
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