has become one of the most widespread diseases known to man. In the last couple of decades, the number of diabetes cases has increased four to five times. Globally an estimated 463 million people are living with diabetes and related complications and the most unfortunate fact is that more than half of them do not even know they are diabetic.
The side effects of diabetes are as dangerous as the disease itself, if not more. For example, 30 percent of final stage kidney diseases are due to diabetes. 80 percent of the diabetics die from cardio vascular diseases. More than 90 percent of these cases are known as Type-2 diabetes also known as “adult-onset diabetes”. Type-1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes. This type of diabetes usually occurs in children and is the result of an autoimmune attack on the pancreas. This leaves these children without any insulin; therefore, they must take insulin to survive. However, let us focus our attention on the more prevalent variety- type-2 diabetes mellitus
It is of prime importance that we identify early signs before Diabetes actually shows up. Good news is that the body shows a lot of warning signs years before one becomes diabetic. We need to learn to read those signs and act on it. Let us read through to understand these signs better.
Root cause of diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when blood sugar levels are too high as a result of insulin resistance. Over the years our diet has taken its toll, and many of us have become less and less sensitive to our own insulin as a result. Insulin is a storage hormone that drives sugar into the cell to be utilized or stored as fat. The body desires to control our blood sugars. Therefore, when the body becomes less sensitive to its own insulin, it compensates by making more insulin. In other words our bodies respond to increasing blood sugar levels by forcing the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin in order to control our blood sugars. Individuals with insulin resistance need more and more insulin as the years go by to keep their blood sugars normal. Although these elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) are effective in controlling our blood sugars, they also may lead to some serious health problems.
Warning signs of diabetes
Diabetes symptoms may occur over time or they may appear quickly. The various types of diabetes may have similar or different warning signs. Some general warning signs of diabetes are:
Also known as polyuria, frequent and/or excessive urination is a sign that your blood sugar levels are high enough to “spill” into your urine. The average person passes urine between four and seven times a day, but people with diabetes often go much more often because your kidneys can’t keep up with the amount of glucose, they allow some of it to go into your urine. This makes you have to urinate often, including during the night.
Extreme thirst is another common, early symptom of diabetes. People with diabetes often feel very thirsty and have a very dry mouth. It’s tied to high blood sugar levels, which cause thirst on their own, and is exacerbated by frequent urination. Often, drinking won’t satisfy the thirst and can continue even if they drink plenty of fluids.
Note: – The same dehydration that causes thirst and dry mouth can also cause dry and itchy skin.
Intense hunger, or polyphagia, is also an early warning sign of diabetes. Your body uses the glucose in your blood to feed your cells. When this system is broken, your cells can’t absorb the glucose. As a result, your body is constantly looking for more fuel, causing persistent hunger. Because you have so much extra glucose circulating that it comes out in your urine, you may also lose weight, even while eating more and more to appease your hunger. Unexplained weight loss can be its own warning sign of diabetes.
Experiencing blurred vision
Blurred vision isn’t always simply a sign of needing new glasses. Diabetes can also cause blurred vision, as changing fluid levels can cause swelling in the lenses of the eyes, which prevents them from focusing correctly. The blurriness will usually resolve. Still, see an eye doctor right away. With prolonged high blood sugar levels, you become at risk for more serious conditions that can lead to blindness, such as diabetic retinopathy.
Nerve pain or numbness in feet or legs
Numbness in the feet and legs can be a sign of nerve damage, which occurs when diabetes causes blood sugar to remain high for a long period. This is a sign of nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy. This condition typically develops slowly. You are likely to experience this after years of living with diabetes, but it can be a first sign for many. You might experience tingling or numbness in your hands, fingers, feet, and toes.
Slow healing wounds
High blood sugar levels narrow your blood vessels, slowing blood circulation and restricting needed nutrients and oxygen from getting to wounds which can impact the body’s ability to heal. High blood sugar levels can lower your immunity to slow the body’s healing process. Sores and cuts that take an unusually long time to heal may be a sign that blood sugar has been high for some time.
Feeling extremely tired can simply be the result of working too hard or not sleeping enough, but it could also be a sign of diabetes. If tiredness doesn’t go away even when taking time for rest and relaxation, it’s worth seeing a doctor to rule out diabetes as a potential cause.
Itching and yeast infections
Excess sugar in the blood and urine provides food for yeast, which can lead to infection. Yeast infections tend to occur on warm, moist areas of the skin, such as the mouth, genital areas, and armpits.
The affected areas are usually itchy, but a person may also experience burning, redness, and soreness.
Weight loss or gain
People with diabetes may experience rapid, significant weight gains or weight loss – without trying to do so – as an early symptom of their condition.
Dark skin patches
Dark, velvety discoloration in the folds of your skin is called acanthosis nigricans. This is another early warning sign of type 2 diabetes. It’s most common in the armpits, neck, and groin regions, and the skin also becomes thickened.
This is caused by an excess of insulin in the blood, which is common in people with type 2 diabetes because insulin resistance is the main precursor to type-2 diabetes.
Few significant medical tests that could help with early signs of diabetes, you can monitor and mitigate –
Higher than normal blood sugar levels. Normal levels are 100 mg/dl with fasting and 130 mg/dl 2 hrs after eating.
Most physicians believe that a two-hour blood sugar above 190 (definitely above 200) is the level needed to diagnose diabetes. A normal two-hour blood sugar level should be less than 110 and definitely less than 130. Patients who have a slightly elevated fasting blood sugar and a two-hour blood sugar between 130 and 190 are termed as having preclinical diabetes.
Hb1AC level is more than 5.7
Since a blood sugar measurement indicates only how a patient is doing at a particular moment, another helpful test is a hemoglobin A1C, which reveals the amount of sugar found in a red blood cell. Since our red blood cells remain in the body for approximately 140 days, this test is a great indicator of how well a patient is truly controlling his or her diabetes. The normal range for a hemoglobin A1C in most labs is 3.5 to 5.7.
Triglyceride to HDL ratio greater than 2
When you do a blood lipid profile, it includes the levels of total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, the LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides (the other fat in the blood). If you divide the triglyceride level by the HDL level, the ratio you get is an indication of whether you are developing the diabetes. If this ratio is greater than 2, you may be in the early stages of diabetes.
Insulin resistance leads to central obesity. If you have gained substantial weight around your waistline, with no major change to your eating habits and activity level, you may be at risk of developing diabetes.
If you heed these signs and make some simple lifestyle changes, you can treat the underlying problem in diabetes namely insulin resistance. All it takes is modest exercise, eating in a manner that does not spike the blood sugar, and taking some basic nutritional supplements that can improve insulin sensitivity.
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes high blood sugar levels. Early signs and symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, feeling tired and hungry, vision problems, slow wound healing, and yeast infections. Anyone who experiences possible signs and symptoms of diabetes should see a doctor for an evaluation, especially if they have other risk factors for developing this condition. The early detection and treatment of type 2 diabetes can improve a person’s quality of life and reduce the risk of severe complications.