Wondering if you could have Diabetes?
Be sure to pay attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle warning signs.
For some people, the signs of diabetes can be obvious. Symptoms such as frequent urination, always feeling tired or run-down, and excessive and near-constant thirst can be hard to miss. But for other people, warning signs of diabetes are more subtle and much easier to miss. In fact, many people do not have any symptoms at all. Usually a routine blood test is what first alerts them to having diabetes. Getting regular blood work is important, because the sooner you know that you have diabetes, the sooner you can take control of it, make wise decisions, and reduce complications.
Diabetes Warning Sign #1: Feeling Fine
For many people, especially in the early stages of diabetes, they feel fine. Maybe not great, but no different than how they have been feeling for awhile. Experts estimate that approximately 7 million people have undiagnosed diabetes. Some people don't have alarmingly high blood sugar early on, others brush off subtle signs or confuse them with other problems. Even if you recognize only a subtle change in how you usually feel, it might be good to see your family doctor. Sometimes people don't know how bad diabetes had been making them feel until they get proper treatment.
Diabetes Warning Sign #2: Strong Thirst and Frequent Urination
People dealing with diabetes have been known to urinate up to 20 times per day, with a full bladder each time. When you have too much sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream, your kidneys kick into high gear to try to get rid of it. As this happens, the excess sugar soaks up water all over your body, causing you to become dehydrated and very thirsty very quickly. Hence the vicious cycle of thirst, urination, and fatigue.
Diabetes Warning Sign #3: Feeling Tired All the Time
Ok, so feeling tired happens to everyone, every now and then. Who couldn't use an extra few hours at the end of the day? For people dealing with diabetes, however, their cells are starving for sugar (glucose), which happens to be your body's primary source for energy. Low sugar in the cells means seriously drained energy. When people have diabetes, the excess blood sugar stays in the bloodstream, instead of going into the body's cells to be used for energy. I call this situation Running on Empty. Add to this nightly trips to the bathroom, and you will definitely feel like you are dragging.
Diabetes Warning Sign #4: Recurrent Yeast Infections
The reason people with diabetes have frequent yeast infections is simple. Bacteria thrive in a high-sugar environment. They live on glucose. When there is a lot of glucose on hand, bacteria can overgrow, thus displacing the normal flora environment. Common infection sites include the mouth (this specific infection is called oral thrush), and any place where people sweat. Think armpits, neck, the areas between the toes and under the breasts.
Diabetes Warning Sign #5: Slow-Healing Cuts and Infections
Too much glucose in your blood can slow down the efforts of white blood cells, which go to work when your skin is cut, healing the damaged tissue. If you have diabetes, even minor injuries like razor microcuts will take longer to heal and can become infected.
Diabetes Warning Sign #6: Frequent Upper Respiratory Infections, Think Flus, Colds, Bronchitis, Pneumonia
People with diabetes have a weakened immune system that not only makes your cuts and bruises heal slowly but can also make you more vulnerable to the bugs (viruses) that cause colds and flu. You may even find you are just getting over one cold, just to catch another. Or you find yourself taking 'backsets', where you start to get better then get worse again.
Diabetes Warning Sign #7: Your Vision is Blurred
Extra glucose in the blood travels to the eyes and produces a sugar called sorbitol that blurs your vision. It's like looking through a glass that isn't clear. Many times, once the diabetes is treated, the blurred vision gets better.
Diabetes Warning Sign #8: Unexplained Weight Loss
For people with diabetes, when the body does not get the energy it needs, it starts to break down fat and muscle, causing weight to drop. If you are losing weight and don't know why, call your family doctor. Breakdown of fat for energy can create ketones in the body, which are toxic.
Diabetes Warning Sign #9: You're Hungry All the Time
Diabetes stops sugar (glucose) from entering your cells, so your body can't convert the food you eat into energy. This, in turn, starves your cells. No matter how much you eat, nothing seems to satisfy your hunger. To make matters worse, all that extra food can also cause you to gain weight, which can start the cycle all over again, causing extra glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Diabetes causes this debilitating and dangerous cycle. The good news is that the cycle can be stopped.
Diabetes Warning Sign #10: Numbness, Pain, Tingling
For many people, this is the first sign they have a problem. Numbness, tingling, or pain in your feet or hands may be a sign of peripheral neuropathy, a condition caused by damage to your nerves. No one knows exactly why diabetes causes neuropathy, but when cells are starved it follows that the rest of the body (nerves, tissue, organs, bones) will be starved as well.
If you have any of these symptoms of diabetes, call your family doctor today.Although diabetes can be a challenge, knowing is half the battle. Getting regular physicals with complete blood work is important to staying on top of your overall health. See your family doctor regularly. If you are not feeling exactly right, call your doctor right away. Diabetes can be diagnosed with simple blood testing. Your family doctor can help you manage your diabetes and take control of your health.
Wishing you and your family Good Health, Happiness, and Success!
At Leavitt Family Medicine, we are here for you, for all of your health care needs. We welcome your comments and questions. Please let us know how we can help you today!
Posted on 04/18/2013 6:12 PM by Paul J. Leavitt, M.D.