More than 100 million Americans are now living with diabetes or prediabetes.
These numbers are set to rise alarmingly, with many people being unaware that they even have the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
This type of diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors and is prevalent in people over the age of 40. It can be very gradual, so gradual in fact that it is possible to miss the symptoms of the disease.
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can help you recognize the disease and take steps towards treatment.
Left untreated, diabetes can have several harmful effects on your health and could even shorten your life expectancy. Here are 9 warning signs of diabetes that you should look out for.
1) Increased Thirst
We all have times we feel pretty thirsty. Maybe it’s a warm summer day, or we have eaten salty or spicy food, so we shrug it off. It may seem like nothing, but it is essential to be aware that increased thirst (Polydipsia) can be an indication of higher than normal blood glucose levels, meaning that you may have Type 2 diabetes.
When you have diabetes, excess sugar builds up in your blood, and as a result, your kidneys have to work harder to filter and absorb it.
If your kidneys are unable to keep up, the excess sugar is excreted into your urine, dragging along fluids from your tissues. This triggers more frequent urination, which may leave you dehydrated.
2) Increased Hunger
After thirst comes hunger. This itself does not necessarily mean that you have diabetes, but if even after you eat, you still feel starving, you should be alert.
Excessive hunger, also known as Polyphagia, is one of the main signs of diabetes. When diabetes is not controlled, blood glucose levels remain abnormally high, and glucose from the blood cannot enter the cells.
This is due to a lack of insulin or insulin resistance. As a result, the body is unable to convert the food into energy, causing an increase in hunger.
3) Frequent Urination
Frequent urination also referred to as polyuria, is when the body urinates more than usual and passes large volumes of urine- more than 3 liters a day, compared to the normal daily urine output in adults of about one to two liters.
Frequent urination can be an embarrassing and inconvenient sign of diabetes. If left untreated, it can lead to severe dehydration, which can affect kidney function.
If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels are high, and as a result, not all the sugar can be absorbed. This causes excess sugar from the blood to end up in the urine, resulting in frequent and larger amounts of urine.
4) Unexplained Weight Loss
Okay, so generally, losing weight is not a bad thing. Many of us yearn to lose a few pounds so we can fit back into that old pair of jeans. Yet unexplained weight loss is a sign of diabetes.
Though it is usually more prevalent in cases of Type 1 diabetes, it can also occur with Type 2. If you are constantly feeling hungry and consuming higher quantities of food, yet you are experiencing rapid weight loss, you may have diabetes.
People with diabetes have insufficient levels of insulin, which prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood into the cells to use as energy. When this happens, you lose body weight, as the body begins to burn fat and muscle for energy instead.
During the week, many of us feel a slump. Yet if this is a constant occurrence and you regularly feel tired, this might be a sign of Type 2 diabetes.
High blood sugar levels affect the body’s ability to get blood into cells to produce energy. With busy schedules and hectic lifestyles, dismissing fatigue can be easy.
However, research has shown that those who neglect their health as a result of fatigue and other symptoms are more at risk of developing complications down the line.
6) Blurred Vision
Blurred vision is one of the easier symptoms of diabetes to spot.
High blood glucose can cause the lens to swell, which can result in temporary blurring of eyesight.
Another condition related to vision is retinopathy. This is a more complicated condition that can result in blindness and occurs when high glucose levels damage the blood vessels in the retina.
We all experience a headache now and then. They are painful and throbbing, but they tend to pass eventually.
However, if you have diabetes, headaches may make a more frequent occurrence in your life. These headaches happen due to changes in blood sugar levels, as your blood sugar levels go up and down.
8) Tingling, Numbness, or Pain in the Hands or Feet
Over time, high blood sugar levels can affect blood circulation, resulting in nerve damage. This is known as diabetic neuropathy.
There are four different types of diabetic neuropathy, with diabetic peripheral neuropathy being the most common type. It affects the feet and legs first, followed by the hands and arms. If left untreated, this condition can worsen over time and lead to more serious complications.
9) Issues with Skin
If you start to notice issues with your skin, such as itchiness, slow healing cuts or dark patches of skin, these may be warning signs of diabetes.
As discussed, high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels and nerves, impairing blood circulation. As a result, cuts and wounds take longer to heal, increasing the risk of infection.
If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have dry, itchy skin. This is usually caused by poor blood circulation and typically affects the hands and feet.
In some instances, it may be caused by a yeast infection. Yeast infections occur as a result of excess sugar in the blood and urine, providing food for yeast. This can result in a yeast infection.
The affected areas are usually itchy, but a person may also experience burning, redness, and soreness.
Patches of dark skin forming on the creases of the neck, armpit, or groin are often caused by a skin condition is known as acanthosis nigricans.
Type 2 diabetes is not always easy to diagnose, and you could have the disease without even being aware of your condition.
The symptoms can be gradual and go unnoticed, but by being alert and aware of the signs, you could potentially save your life.
While many of these symptoms can be easy to dismiss and can occur whether you have diabetes or not, if you are experiencing all of the above, or have a family history of diabetes, you should seek a diagnosis.
Seeking a diagnosis can be an apprehensive experience, but by knowing what you are dealing with, you can better begin to treat it.
Whether you have prediabetes, are diabetic, or do not suffer the condition at all, making decisions that will benefit your health is essential.
Lifestyle factors cause type 2 diabetes, and so it is essential to be aware of the effect poor choices can have on your overall health. Taking the time to learn and understand how the disease works, especially if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, could have significant benefits.