Diabetes Warning Signs You Should Be Aware of
Diabetes is a serious health condition that affects millions of people worldwide (1). If left untreated, it can lead to a number of serious complications. These include heart disease (2), kidney failure (3), and ultimately blindness (4).
There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes, which is also called insulin-dependent diabetes, usually starts to show up in children or teenagers. Someone with type 1 diabetes needs to take daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels (5). Type 2 diabetes happens later in life and can be brought on by bad eating and exercise habits. (6) For this reason, the good news is that it can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes. However, if that doesn't work, medication can also help. While both types of diabetes can lead to serious health complications, early diagnosis and treatment can help people manage the disease and live long, healthy lives. We will be talking about type 2 diabetes in this article.
Common Warning Signs of Diabetes
If you want to be able to control diabetes or even turn it around, you need to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. The bad news is that many people with diabetes do not realise that they have the condition until they experience significant health problems. That's why it's important to be aware of the most common diabetes warning signs. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can live a long and healthy life despite your diabetes.
So what are the most common warning signs of diabetes?
You may be wondering why you sometimes feel hungry even when you've just eaten a meal. It could be a sign of diabetes. The answer has to do with the way your body processes glucose, or blood sugar. Normally, after you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and other nutrients. As glucose enters your bloodstream, it triggers the release of insulin from your pancreas. Insulin's job is to help move glucose from your blood into your cells, where it's used for energy.
If you have diabetes, your body either makes insufficient insulin or is unable to utilise its own insulin as well as it ought to. As a result, glucose stays in your blood instead of being absorbed into your cells. Known as insulin resistance, this can cause hunger and cravings for sweet foods, in particular, because your cells aren't getting the energy that they need to function (7). It can also lead to weight gain because, if the glucose isn't used up by the cells, it gets stored as fat (8). If you're feeling hungry more often than usual, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test, which will identify if you are showing signs of developing diabetes.
Thirst and increased urination
Another one of the signs of type 2 diabetes is increased urination (9). When glucose builds up in your blood, it causes your kidneys to work overtime to filter it out. This process causes you to urinate more frequently. In addition, high levels of glucose can pull fluid out of your tissues. This happens because the body is trying to balance the concentration of glucose inside and outside of the cells and tissues in order to process the glucose and expel it in the urine.
This loss of water can lead to dehydration, which in turn makes you feel thirsty. When you're dehydrated, your body doesn't have enough water to function properly. As with feeling hungry all the time, it is important to get a check-up with the doctor if you are feeling thirsty much more often than usual. It could indicate diabetes, but it could also indicate a kidney or urine infection (9).
In addition, because diabetes can damage the nerves, you may not feel thirsty even when you're dehydrated. If you're not drinking enough fluids, this can cause serious complications, including kidney damage (10), and even heart disease (11). In extreme cases, it can even lead to death, so it must be taken seriously (12).
Thirst isn't the only symptom of diabetes-related dehydration; you may also experience fatigue (13). The body needs water for every single function: to keep all your organs working efficiently and for all body fluids, such as blood, lymph, and the fluid that bathes every single cell (14). So when the body is dehydrated, it is sluggish, which makes us feel tired. Because of this, it is important to stay hydrated, but even more so if you have diabetes. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and always carry a water bottle with you in case you start to feel thirsty.
Dry mouth, eyes and skin
As mentioned above, we need water for bodily fluids. Dehydration caused by diabetes can affect the levels of those fluids. These include the saliva in the mouth, which is important for the first stages of digestion, and also for flushing bacteria off the teeth. Therefore, people with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay (15).
You may be surprised to learn that diabetes can make your eyes feel dry and scratchy. This is because high levels of glucose can affect the nerves around the tear glands and ducts. This stops the tears that moisten and lubricate our eyes from being produced (16). Simply making lifestyle changes to reduce the glucose in the blood can stop this symptom. However, dry eyes can be quite uncomfortable, so in the meantime, using eye drops will make life easier.
Another symptom of being dehydrated, due to diabetes, is dry skin. We need water to keep our skin soft and supple. So if you notice that you have patches of rough skin that looks scaly and feels itchy and sore, make sure you drink plenty of water (17) and moisturise your skin with a gentle emollient cream. Of course, dry skin alone is not a sign of diabetes. However, if you have clusters of these symptoms along with a raging thirst, don’t delay in getting a blood test at the doctor’s surgery. The sooner you find out if you have diabetes, or are headed in that direction, the sooner you can start making lifestyle changes to overcome it.
Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to a variety of health problems if left untreated. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms so you can get help as soon as possible. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in this article, please see your doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, you can help prevent serious health complications from developing.
Diabetes Prevalence https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-prevalence.html
Diabetes, Heart Disease, & Stroke https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke
Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-kidney-disease.html
Diabetic retinopathy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetic-retinopathy/
What Is Type 1 Diabetes? https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/what-is-type-1-diabetes.html
Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426415/
Polyphagia – Increased Appetite https://www.diabetes.co.uk/symptoms/polyphagia.html
New gene found that turns carbs into fat, could be target for future drugs https://news.berkeley.edu/2012/12/06/gene-converts-carbs-to-fat/
Is Frequent Urination a Sign of Diabetes? https://www.healthline.com/health/frequent-urination-diabetes
Can Dehydration Affect Your Kidneys? https://www.kidney.org/newsletter/can-dehydration-affect-your-kidneys
Surprising ways dehydration puts your heart at risk https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/surprising-ways-dehydration-puts-your-heart-at-risk/photostory/85647796.cms
Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar State https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278976/
Adult Dehydration https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/
Water: How much should you drink every day? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
Diabetes, Gum Disease, & Other Dental Problems https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/gum-disease-dental-problems
Can Diabetes Cause Dry Eyes? https://www.healthline.com/health/dry-eye/dry-eyes-diabetes
What to know about dehydrated skin https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dehydrated-skin