The symptoms of diabetes can be dramatic or subtle – depending on whether it is Type 1 or Type 2. In Type 1, the lack of insulin usually gets your attention right away. However, Type 2 symptoms are like a drum that starts very quietly, but gets louder and louder.
-Shaking and confusion due to the low level of sugar IN the cells of the body
-Fruity smell to the breath because of the breakdown of fats for energy
-Abdominal pain usually due to severe dehydration
-Loss of consciousness (rare) from extremely low blood sugar levels - hypoglycemia
In contrast, many people who have type 2 diabetes do not know it because they do not know what to look for. In some cases, it is the complications of blurred vision, slow healing wounds, kidney problems, heart disease or numbness in the hands or feet that lead doctors and patients to the conclusion of diabetes. People can live for a long time and not even know they have diabetes. Type 2 can come on so gradually that symptoms may not even be noticed.
People with diabetes frequently experience certain symptoms. These might include:
-Constant thirst (polydipsia )
–Excessive levels of sugar cause the body to signal your brain to drink more in an attempt to dilute the concentration of sugar in your bloodstream
-Sudden weight loss - with the inability to process glucose, people with diabetes can’t use the calories they take in and therefore can lose weight
-Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
-Dry skin and frequent skin rashes or infections - diabetics generally have poorer blood circulation and this can cause problems with the skin
-Wounds that heal slowly – prevents the normal function of white blood cells and thus slowing the healing process
-Extreme unexplained fatigue – when the body cannot use sugar properly, it may start using fat as its fuel and this puts more stress and strain on your body leaving you more tired
-Increased hunger and food intake without weight gain – along with insulin resistance comes the signal to eat more – your cells want more fuel and aren’t getting it – so you eat more, but you simply end up urinating the excess sugar away
-The urge to urinate frequently (polyuria) – as one consumes more and more water, the urge to urinate increases
-Blurry vision or changes in vision – the ultimate result is blindness causes by abnormal functioning blood vessels that keep the eyes healthy
-Bladder, kidney or gum infections – with increased sugar levels, bacteria that cause infections can thrive in your body
However, these are only symptoms of diabetes and tests are available to monitor your current health – see the details below for the ABC’s of testing. These are a few of the most common tests you should ask your doctor about if you notice any of the symptoms listed above:
-A = A1C (Blood Glucose) should be less than 7 percent and ideally in the 4-6% range - check at least twice a year
-B = Blood Pressure should be less than 130/80 mmHg - check during every doctor’s visit
-C = Cholesterol (LDL) should be less than 100 mg/dl - check at least once a year
Regular additional exams like these might also give you early warning signs of the symptoms of diabetes:
-Microalbumin (Urine Protein) - should not be present. This test measures the amount of protein in the urine and indicates possible problems check at least once per year.
-Foot Exam – While you can do self examinations, it is best to have your doctor thoroughly check your feet for tingling (nerve damage), slow healing cuts or cracks (circulation problems) and persistent ulcers. This exam should be done at least once per year.
-Dilated Eye Exam – This helps the doctor track the health of the blood vessels in your eye.
Bottom line – please see your doctor if you suspect any issues.
Up to one third of all those with diabetes don’t even know it. Poke around our site or others to see what can happen if you ignore the signs. The upside is this – most people can learn to control, not eliminate, the complications due to diabetes through lifestyle changes of diet, nutritional supplements, exercise and proper medication. Please be one of them!