How can you tell if you have diabetes? Diabetes symptoms may occur over time, or they may appear suddenly.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a lifelong, metabolic disease defined by an excessively high level of blood glucose (blood sugar) that over the long haul, can cause severe damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nervous system.
There are a few types of diabetes, though the most prevalent forms are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They differ based on origin. You may experience sudden symptoms of diabetes or receive an unexpected diagnosis due to chronic but obscure symptoms. Most early indications result from increased glucose levels, a kind of sugar, in your blood.
Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and young adults when the pancreas becomes incapable of producing insulin. Patients must monitor their blood sugar levels via daily self-administered insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes, the disease’s most prevalent form, typically develops in adults. The disease manifests when the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar, or when the body becomes unable to use the insulin it manufactures efficiently.
Over the past three decades, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide has increased fourfold. More th
an 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, including almost 12 million adults aged 65 and older.
The Early Signs of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system starts to recognize insulin-producing beta cells as a foreign entity. The immune system destroys those beta cells over time, and they become unable to produce the required insulin to feed the muscles, organs, and fat cells.
Risk factors that increase the onset of type 1 diabetes include:
- Family history: Type 1 diabetes involves a genetic susceptibility to developing the disease; if a family member has had type 1, you are at a higher risk.
- Viral infections: Certain viruses (such as German measles, coxsackie, and mumps) may trigger the development of type 1 diabetes by causing the immune system to turn against the body.
- Race/ethnicity: In the U.S., Caucasians seem to be more susceptible to type 1 than African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans.
- Geography: People who live in northern climates seem to be at a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can come on suddenly and include:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination – When diabetes escalates your
blood sugar, your kidneys may not be able to resolve the situation. Thus, the body produces more urine, which requires increased fluids. The result: you’ll need to urinate more often, and as a result, you can get very thirsty. And when you drink more, you’ll need to urinate more often as well.
- Severe hunger – If your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin your body produces, the glucose can’t permeate the tissues. Subsequently, you will experience decreased energy, increased hunger, and lethargy.
- Dry mouth and itchy skin – Because your body is using fluids to make urine, there’s less moisture for other bodily functions. You may get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can also make you itchy.
Other early symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
- Unintended weight loss
- Sudden bed-wetting in children
- Irritability and mood swings
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurry vision
Type 2 Diabetes
Age, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and family history influence the onset of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your pancreas produces relativelynormal amounts of insulin. However, your body is unable to use insulin effectively. As a consequence, blood sugar control is abnormal, primarily due to insulin resistance.
You are more likely to develop type 2
Are overweight or obese
- Are 45 years of age or older
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Have high blood pressure
- Are not physically activediabetes if you:
- Have a history of heart disease or stroke
Type 2 diabetes is often preventable by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and refraining from smoking.
Early signs of type 2 diabetes include:
- Yeast infections – Yeast infections can occur in both men and women with diabetes. Yeast feeds on glucose, so excess glucose makes it thrive. Infections can grow in any warm, moist fold of skin, including:
- Between fingers and toes
- Under breasts
- In or around sex organs
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds – High levels of sugar in the blood can damage the body’s nerves and blood vessels, which can impair blood circulation. As a result, even small cuts and wounds may take weeks or months to heal. Slow wound healing also increases the risk of infection.
- Increased hunger – Your body uses the glucose in your blood to feed your cells. Type 2 diabetes impedes this process, which prohibits your cells from absorbing glucose. As a result, your body is continually looking for more fuel, causing persistent hunger.
- Nerve pain or numbness – You are likely to experience this after years of living with diabetes, but it can be a first sign for many.
- Blurred vision – Blurred vision usually occurs early in unmanaged diabetes. It can be a result of sudden high blood sugar levels, which affect the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, causing fluid to seep into the lens of the eye.
- Dark skin patches – Dark, velvety discoloration in the folds of your skin is called acanthosis nigricans. It’s most common in the armpits, neck, and groin regions, and the skin also becomes thickened.
Early signs of type 2 diabetes may also include:
- Frequent urination, including during the night
- Extreme thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
If you suspect that you are experiencing any of the early signs of type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s essential to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and swift treatment can significantly reduce the risk of life-threatening complications.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information.