29.1 million Americans or 9.3% of the population have diabetes (90-95% with type 2 and 5% with type 1).
That’s just a bit shy of 1 in 10 Americans.
It gets worse. diabetes.org predicts 1 in 3 of us will have diabetes by 2050.
And if you are overweight, take particular cautions as over 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
This medical condition that kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined every year is quickly becoming one of the top health issues in the United States.
Yet, it’s reported that more than a quarter of diabetic patients are undiagnosed and go years without detecting diabetes and implementing proper blood sugar level management such as “diabetic diet” and carbohydrate counting.
Just as any other medical conditions, treating diabetes begins with proper diagnosis.
First, you have to detect it yourself and get diagnosed by a medical professional.
But if it’s that easy, the 8 million undiagnosed diabetic Americans would already be diagnosed.
Instead, most people who receive the diagnosis are often shocked to receive their diagnosis.
It’s simply because there are no early symptoms, and when you get them, they are very mild and not noticeable unless you know what to look for.
It’s unfortunate many newly detected patients miss their early signs (if they get them).
And that’s especially common with type 2 diabetes.
It’s a deadly disease that’s slow to emerge and come without obvious signs.
If you do have diabetes, managing blood sugar is not only important, but your lifeline as “too high blood sugar levels” can make you feel sick, dehydrated, weak and tired, and if it gets extremely high, you may suffer from a heart attack.
But too low blood sugar levels can also harm you, and extreme case results in “diabetic coma” or seizure.
Some of low blood sugar symptoms include shaking, sweating, headache, hunger, feeling nervous, uneasy, or anxious, fatigues, and pounding heartbeat.
Yes, indeed diabetes is a serious, chronic disease.
According to Om P. Ganda, M.D., Harvard Medical School, There is a clear-cut relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There is no cure, but you can prevent serious health complications from developing by managing your blood glucose levels.
Needless to say, carefully managing and keeping the amount of sugar in your blood at the right level is extremely important for your health and quality of life.
When talking about diabetes type 2, many falsely think it’s a disease for the older people, and that they have years before it becomes their issue.
This cannot be further from the truth.
According to KidsHealth.org, more and more young children under the age of 18 develop “diabetes type 2”, and approximately 1.85 million women between the age of 18 and 44 have diabetes.
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check to see if you have experienced any of these 7 common signs and symptoms of diabetes.
7 Signs You Have Diabetes
1. Excessive Thirst and Increased Urination
According to University of Washington Medicine, the most common symptom of type 2 diabetes is frequent urination and thirst.
When you have high blood glucose levels, it’s overwhelming to your kidney’s filtering system. As a result, your kidneys can’t absorb all of the excess sugar, and it’s excreted into your urine with fluids drawn from your tissues. This process leads to more frequent urination.
As a result, you feel dehydrated. To replace the fluid being drawn out, you’re almost constantly drinking water or other beverages.
2. Flu-Like Feeling
The most disabling diabetes symptom is fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite. But because those symptoms are also common in flu and other medical side effects, many people don’t suspect diabetes.
Poorly managed blood glucose levels can easily affect body’s function and disrupt your normal activities and cause fatigue.
“It’s because when the blood sugar level is high, your blood can get sludgy and cause slow circulation. This may then lead to your cells not getting enough oxygen and nutrients they need to properly function.”, says David Spero a nurse with 32 years of experience, and author of Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis – Who Gets It, Who Profits, and How to Stop It.
Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis – Who Gets It, Who Profits, and How to Stop It.
David also points out, “high blood glucose can also cause fatigue through sugar infused blood vessel inflammation.”
3. Weight Loss or Gain
While weight gain, overweight and obese is often a leading cause of developing type 2 diabetes, some type 1 diabetes patients can experience weight loss.
It’s because without a sufficient amount of insulin, your body with type 1 diabetes cannot break down sugars from food to use as energy. Instead, the body’d rely on stored fat and muscle and flushes out excess sugar through the urine.
That’s exactly what happened with Erin Williams, a patient of type 1 diabetes.
Her insulin deprived body often suffered from dehydration as her body flushed out excess sugar through her urine. At night, she’d go to the bathroom as many as 20 times, says Erin to a reporter of ABC News.
All these can lead to calorie loss, muscle weight loss and water weight loss.
4. Blurred Vision
Diabetes’ chronically high blood sugar can impair the vision and affect the ability to focus. According to National Eye Institute’s Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease, all forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness.
In fact, WebMd reported diabetes being the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 74.
They explain, excessive glucose can cause the tiny blood vessels in the retina to leak fluid or bleed, distorting vision.
While lowering blood sugar may help restore fluid to your lenses, your vision may stay blurry for sometime.
5. Slow-Healing Sores or Frequent Infections
Excess sugar in your blood naturally blocks your body’s natural healing process and distort its infection fighting power, causing frequent infections and longer healing process.
According to diabetes.co.uk, urinary tract infections (UTIs), bacteria infections that affect anywhere from kidneys, the ureters, and bladder are common amongst diabetes as sugar in the urine makes for a fertile breeding ground for bacteria.
They report, 9.4% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes had a UTI compared to only 5.7 % of people without diabetes (the American Diabetes Association data).
Unfortunately, for women this includes bladder and vaginal yeast infections.
6. Tingling Feet and Hands
Tingling feet and hands alone is not exclusive to diabetes. However, tingling feeling in conjunction with other symptoms such as pain, itching, numbness and muscle wasting may be a sign of nerve damage, which can result from diseases such as diabetes.
Such nerve damage is known as peripheral neuropathy, and diabetes is one of its main causes. According to EverydayHealth, up to 70% of diabetes will develop some type of neuropathy.
In many cases, these tangling feet and hands is one of the first symptoms of diabetes.
7. Red, Swollen and Tender Gums
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research warns people with diabetes are at a special risk for gum disease, often known as periodontal disease. It’s an infection of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place.
Diabetes weakens the mouth’s ability to fight germs and make it more susceptive to contracting infections.
Some of the signs of the “diabetes related oral health complications” are:
- loosening of permanent teeth
- Dentures not fitting
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
How did you do? Even if you are not experiencing any of the above symptoms, it doesn’t mean you are free of diabetes.
As Group Health Cooperative suggests, if you are at a higher risk, get checked.
Here are some of the risk factors of diabetes:
- age: over 45
- BMI: BMI higher than 25
- Family heritage: African-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian
- Family history: Mother, father, sister, or brother with type 2 diabetes
- Pregnancy history: Gestational diabetes