What Are The Primary Symptoms of Diabetes?

The most prevalent symptom of diabetes (Type I and II) is elevated blood sugar levels. In Type I (insulin dependent / early onset) diabetes, this is caused by the body not producing enough insulin to properly regulate blood sugar. In Type II (non insulin dependent/adult onset) diabetes, it is caused by the body developing resistance to insulin, so it cannot properly use what it produces.

However, high blood sugar is not something you can see in the mirror at home, so it is useful to know the side-effects of high blood sugar, which are commonly recognized as the noticeable diabetes symptoms.

If you find yourself experiencing many of these symptoms on a consistent, long term basis, you should visit a doctor to be tested for diabetes. Ignoring (or not recognizing) the symptoms of diabetes can lead to long-term serious health risks and complications from untreated diabetes.

Some of the common 'early warning' signs of diabetes are:

  • Excessive thirst: one of the first symptoms of diabetes is often excessive thirst that is unrelated to exercise, hot weather, or short-term illness.
  • Excessive hunger: you are still hungry all the time even though you've eaten.
  • Frequent urination: frequent urination is often noticed because you must wake up repeatedly during the night.
  • Fatigue: tiredness and fatigue, possibly severe enough to make you fall asleep unexpectedly after meals, is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes.
  • Sudden weight loss: rapid and/or sudden weight loss (any dramatic change in weight is a sign to visit a doctor)

Get Tested If You Are Concerned

While many of the signs and symptoms of diabetes can also be related to other causes, testing for diabetes is very easy, and the constant/regular presence of one or more of these symptoms over an extended period of time should be cause for a visit to the doctor.

If diabetes is suspected, tested for, and diagnosed when those symptoms first start appearing, other more serious symptoms of advanced diabetes can often be prevented or have their onset significantly delayed through diet, exercise and proper blood sugar management.

Minor, Less Recognizable Symptoms of Diabetes

Often the 'minor' diabetes symptoms go unrecognized, and physical and neurological problems may arise.

  • Blurry vision: blurred vision may occur because diabetes can lead to macular degeneration and eventual blindness.
  • Numbness: numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet may occur due to peripheral neuropathy, one of the diabetes symptoms, causes nerve damage in the extremities)
  • Slow-healing wounds: slow healing of minor scratches and wounds may be the result of diabetes-related impaired immune system function.
  • Recurrent yeast infections: recurrent or hard-to-treat yeast infections in women are another sign of impaired immune function.
  • Dry skin: dry or itchy skin may result from peripheral neuropathy which affects circulation and proper sweat gland function.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, or you recognize these symptoms in a child or relative, they may be signs of untreated diabetes. A doctor's appointment should be made as soon as possible, so the individual experiencing the diabetes symptoms can -- if diabetes is diagnosed -- take the steps needed to prevent more serious health problems.

Photo: Pexels

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