According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a “group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.” Type 1 diabetes is typical found in children, while Type 2 diabetes is typically found in adults. According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes.* Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure.*
With these and other major health concerns related to diabetes, it is important to be aware of the warning signs. Here are some of the warning signs you should be aware of:
Frequent Urination and Unusual Thirst. These two factors are classic signs of diabetes caused by elevated sugar in the blood. If your blood sugar is high, your kidneys will work harder to expel the sugar from your body, thereby causing frequent urination. As you expel more liquid, your body will trigger your thirst telling you that you need to replenish those liquids.
Weight Loss. Unexplained and quick weight loss can also be a sign that your blood sugar is too high.
Fatigue. If you are unusually tired and can’t keep up your energy levels this could be a sign that sugar is staying in your bloodstream instead of being diverted to your body’s cells to be used for energy.
Numbness or Tingling. Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet can be the result of peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage. Chronically high blood sugars can bring on this symptom and can lead to more serious problems.
Cuts or Bruises that are Slow to Heal. When you have issues with your blood sugar levels, you may find that cuts or bruises just don’t heal the way they used to. If you have noticed this problem, it is important to be checked by your doctor because injuries left untreated can run the risk of greater infection.
Recurring Infections. As with injuries that don’t heal, when you have diabetes, you also run the risk of frequent or recurring infections. Common recurring infections associated with diabetes include gum disease, urinary tract infections, skin infections, and, for women, yeast infections.
Blurred Vision. A common symptom of diabetes caused by high blood sugar is vision problems. Your eyes are sensitive and diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the blood vessels in the eye, can cause blurred vision, spots, lines, flashing lights or even blindness.
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned you may have diabetes, now is a good time to call your doctor. Diabetes is a manageable disease. By closely monitoring your blood sugar, taking any medications prescribed by your doctor, exercising, and watching your diet, you can control your blood sugar and remain healthy and active. The key to living an active life with diabetes is to get an early diagnosis and to closely follow your doctor’s advice.
For more information about the symptoms of diabetes and for strategies for successful living with diabetes, please visit the American Diabetes Association website.