Symptoms of diabetes that are often overlooked
Diabetes is on the rise, and more people than ever before are now at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It has been estimated that if people do not start adjusting their diet, that more than five million people in the UK will have diabetes by 2025.
Although there are some rarer forms of diabetes, the two common forms are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is often related to your lifestyle, and of those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, a whopping ninety per cent of these are Type 2.
It is so important to know the signs of diabetes though, as ignoring it can be fatal in the worst situation, although this tends to be if you ignore the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, which can be harder, as symptoms can appear very quickly. You are also more likely to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in childhood or as a young adult. Type 2, on the other hand, can be much easier to miss as it develops more slowly; however, there are still problems if it was to go untreated. It can affect many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys, so it is really important to know what to look out for.
There are certain things that can put you more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Age and family history can play a big part. As you get older, your risk increases, and you are six times more likely to develop the condition if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes.
Another huge contributing factor is your weight. You are far more at risk of developing the condition if you are overweight, particularly if you carry excess weight around your middle.
Other factors that put you more at risk include, high blood pressure, previous heart attacks or strokes, diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar or depression, or if you are taking antipsychotic medication, or if you are a women who’s had polycystic ovaries, gestational diabetes, or if you have given birth to a baby weighing over 10 pounds.
Here are some of the common, and more unknown symptoms of diabetes;
- Frequent urination
Often, one of the first signs that you might pick up is a large increase in how often you urinate and can be a telltale sign of high blood sugar. The average person will urinate anywhere between four and seven times in a twenty-four hour period.
If you are frequently waking up in the night to go, despite going before you got into bed, it can be a red flag and is worth getting it checked out, particularly if it is present with other symptoms.
The reason you will urinate more with diabetes is that your kidneys are working a lot harder to try and get rid of the excess blood sugar in your blood. Any sugar that the kidneys cannot absorb, have to leave the body, so the higher the sugar levels, the more you will urinate.
- Excessive thirst
Again, this is one of the most common early symptoms of diabetes and is often caused by the frequent urination.
If you are drinking unusually large amounts of fluid throughout the day or waking up in the night to have a drink, it can be an early warning sign of diabetes.
By excessive drinking, it generally means that you are consuming 4 litres or more every day. There might be no relief from this thirst though, and you can feel thirsty again right after you have had a drink.
Increased thirst and excessive urination often come hand in hand though. The more you drink, the more you urinate; however, the more you urinate, the more you drink.
- Pins and needles in your hands and feet
This is a symptom that not many people know to look out for, but it can be a sign of diabetes. This is because the excessive amounts of sugar in your body can begin to affect your nerve-endings, which will result in your fingers and toes feeling numb or tingly.
If you notice this happening a lot to you, and you have any other symptoms related to diabetes, it is important that you book an appointment with your GP, who can run a simple blood test, which will help to determine whether or not you have diabetes.
- Constant hunger even after you have just eaten
If you have noticed feeling hungry near enough as soon as you have eaten, it could be a warning sign and a symptom of diabetes. This does not necessarily have to be for junk food, it can be for anything, but you just never seem to get full, like your brain is telling you to constantly eat, as though it is the first time that you have eaten that day.
There is a reason for this though, and you are not just being greedy. If you are diabetic, you will not be able to regulate your blood sugar particularly well by yourself, which then leads to huge fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. When these levels fall, your brain will automatically believe that it is being starved, which will then make you crave more sugar and calories to bring these levels back up.
- Unintentional weight loss
Unintentional weight loss is often a sign of many serious illnesses, and it is the same with diabetes. This might seem strange when you read the above point about always being hungry, but in actual fact, rapid and unintentional weight loss is actually one of the more obvious signs of diabetes.
In fact, in some cases, it can be anywhere between 5-10 kilograms in a matter of weeks. It should be noted though that this normally affects those with Type 1 diabetes, because your sugar metabolism may shut down incredibly quickly.
Just like the hunger, there is a reason as to why this happens, and again it is to do with your body believing that it is starving. So, in order to provide energy, the body then responds by breaking down protein in the muscle, which can then result in muscle deterioration and unexpected weight loss.
- Cuts that take a while to heal
One of the more unknown symptoms of diabetes and one that many people might not notice, or even worry about is if you have cuts that take an unusually long time to heal. This is more likely to be prevalent in the areas that are the furthest away from the heart, such as the hands or feet.
This happens because the sugar that is left lingering in the bloodstream will begin to damage the arteries and veins, which will then restrict circulation. However, blood is required to start this healing process, so if this is restricted by poor circulation, a small would or bruise will take a much longer time to heal.
- Itchy and dry skin
If your skin is overly itchy or dry, it could be a sign of diabetes. This is because it can be a sign of high sugar and hormone disruption. On top of being dry, you might notice that the skin is darker around the armpits or the neck, which is known as Acanthosis Nigricans.
The dry skin could be the result of poor circulation and excessive fluid loss from urinating too much. So, if you have one symptom, you are more likely to experience others. If you do have a number of these though, it is important that you visit your GP. The darkening of skin that you might see is normally due to a hormonal change, such as insulin resistance.
- Blurred vision
Leaving diabetes and letting it go untreated can cause your vision to deteriorate, so it is no surprise that blurred vision is one of the early signs of the condition.
Distorted, blurred or seeing eye floaters are all common symptoms of diabetes. Although if the condition is left untreated for a long time, it can lead to irreversible eye damage, normally, if it is caught early enough it can be a reversible problem, once your blood sugar levels have been corrected and it is then fully controlled.
The reason that it can affect your eyes is due to the excess glucose in the blood which pulls fluids out of your cells and tissue. This includes the fluid in the lens of your eye, which can then swell and cause problems when trying to focus on things.
- Feeling incredibly weak and unusually tired
We are not just talking about tiredness from having a poor nights sleep. If you have diabetes that has become unmanaged, the likelihood is that it will leave you feeling incredibly tired, and without the motivation to do anything.
Many sufferers have described this feeling as fatigue or extreme lethargy, which leaves you feeling too weak to even do everyday activities that you would have completed with no problems before.
The reason you get hit with this wall of tiredness is because you have sugar remaining in your blood rather than entering the cells for energy, so you do not just feel like you have less energy, you actually do. Coupled with this, your body is also using additional energy in order to compensate for its irregular sugar levels, your kidneys are in overdrive, and your body is trying to deal with regular sugar crashes. Combine all of this with the poor sleep that you are likely experiencing, it really is no wonder that those with undiagnosed diabetes are feeling more tired than ever.
- Hearing problems
As well as problems with your sight, another early warning sign of diabetes is also problems with your hearing.
Many people and in particular older people tend to put hearing problems down to age, injury or infection, and many are actually unaware that it can also be a symptom of diabetes. But, increased blood sugar levels can affect the nerves, which can then affect your hearing.
- You’re short-tempered
With everything else that is going on, it is no surprise that your moods might be all over the place. It makes you feel quite unwell, which can leave you short-tempered. Having high blood sugar is said to mimic depression-like symptoms, which can leave you not wanting to do anything, apart from sleep.
Many patients with diabetes often get mistreated for depression, and it is only when medical professionals delve in deeper, and correct and improve their blood sugar levels that they start to feel better.
if you have one or more of these symptoms, it is best to go to your GP surgery and be tested for diabetes. The sooner it is discovered, the sooner you can get on the right medication, and the better you will feel.