Understanding diabetes

warning signs of diabetes

Recognising the signs

It’s extremely important that you recognise the early warning signs of diabetes and to seek medical help and advice immediately. To help you understand the warning signs in the run up to World Diabetes Day on November 14th, here are some common warning signs of diabetes that you should watch out for:

Tingling or numbness in your limbs

Over time, high glucose in the blood can lead to damage to your nervous system.  This damage will manifest itself most especially in the extremities, such as your hands, legs and feet.  This often takes place gradually and you might not even notice it. The medical term for this is neuropathy, and it can often go away or be controlled by caring for your blood sugar levels.

Frequent visits to the loo

Are you finding that you’re using the toilet more than normal?  You may notice that you are starting to pay a visit more often than you used to. This might occur due to the increase of glucose levels in your system.  When there is too much glucose and not enough insulin, the kidneys suck water from the blood so as to try and dilute the glucose.  As a result, your bladder is full and you have to spend more time visiting the smallest room of the house. If this is the case, it’s known as something called polyuria.

Overwhelming weakness and fatigue

Are you tired all the time? Do you feel like you are sleeping but essentially, never rested?  If you are not producing enough insulin, your body cannot process the glucose and as such, the cells are unable to take it in to themselves.  The cells need energy and do not get it because glucose is their energy source. This may result in your fatigue and exhaustion.

Extreme weight loss without trying

Whilst this may be a joy to many of us, there may be another reason other than luck causing this effect. This symptom most often occurs with Type 1 diabetes.  Because the cells are not taking in the glucose, they are starved for an energy source.  When the body starves, as a last resort, it attacks the muscle tissue and fat.  By breaking these down, it creates an energy source for itself.  This can lead to sudden and extreme weight loss.

Excessive thirst

You might have an almost unquenchable thirst that goes along with your symptoms.  Are you drinking water constantly throughout the day? With the frequent urination, you’ll find that your body is in greater need of water.  This takes place because the body is pulling extra water and releasing it through urination. The thirst occurs to combat the dehydration that your body is experiencing.  The medical name for this is polydipsia.

Poor wound healing

High blood sugar levels impair your white blood cells’ ability to function properly.  As a result, you might find that your wounds do not heal as quickly as normal.  You might also get infections more frequently.  This is a result of your body’s inability to properly defend itself given the white blood cell problems.

Get yourself checked out

The symptoms associated with diabetes are hard to ignore.  It is important that you contact your doctor if you suspect that you could have diabetes.  More often than not, diabetes goes untreated because people do not understand the symptoms.  So if in doubt, don't hesitate to get yourself checked out.

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