Diabetes – The Silent Killer – Know the Symptoms

Diabetes is often called the silent killer because of its easy-to-miss symptoms. The warning signs can be so mild that it may go un-noticeable. Many wouldn’t even be aware that they are diabetics, which might just pop up in a general routine check-up or until problems surface from long-term damage caused by the disease.

People at risk include being overweight, no physical activity, high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes. It’s better to get your blood sugar tested routinely if you are at risk for diabetes. Also, a single high blood sugar test won’t rule out diabetes because blood sugar can fluctuate with stress and sickness. But if repeated tests show an upward graph, then it’s alarming. The good news is that detecting it early before you have any of the following signs and symptoms can help you get treated and avoid serious complications later. The greater sugar levels are left uncontrolled, the greater is the risk for heart disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, blindness, and other serious complications.

Here’s a look at the symptoms which may arise due to diabetes.

Increased urination -

There might be an increased urge for frequent urination, particularly at night. This is because the kidneys are charged up to get rid of the accumulated glucose in the blood and hence there is an urge to urinate.

Excessive thirst –

Increased urination could be a reason for increased thirst as the body is trying to replenish the lost fluids.

Weight loss –

Due to insufficient insulin, the body is unable to utilise glucose as energy. The body thus starts burning fat and muscle for energy causing muscle loss and reduction in body weight.

Excessive hunger –

Excessive pangs of hunger may arise due to fluctuating blood sugar levels. When you eat high carb foods, insulin is released and within a while, sugar drops down. At this stage, the body sends low-energy signals and you crave for food – hunger pangs. This can be a vicious cycle.

Skin problems –

Acanthosis Nigricans may be a warning sign for diabetics wherein the skin darkens around the neck, armpits, elbow, knees, knuckles, lips, palms. Excess insulin causes normal skin cells to reproduce rapidly which stores more melanin. In diabetes, though the pancreas are producing insulin, the body cannotutilize it properly. Insulin must allow glucose to enter cells to convert for energy which is restricted and hence there is a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream.

Slow Healing –

One of the classic sign a diabetic may face is slow healing from infections, cuts, and bruises. This happens because of high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. The blood high in glucose, passing through veins and arteries may cause damage to the blood vessels. Also, the immune system and the processes that help the body heal, is diminished, making it difficult for healing.

Yeast Infections –

The immune system is suppressed in diabetics which increases susceptibility to a variety of infections especially yeast and fungal infections as fungi and bacteria both thrive in sugar-rich environments.

Fatigue and Irritability -

Diabetics can continuously feel tired and irritable depending on how well the sugar levels are maintained. Also, blood thickens over the time due to high sugar levels hence the heart has to pump harder. Additionally, with frequent urination, there is a loss of glucose and other essential fluids too which the body has to compensate regularly.

Blurred Vision –

Diabetics may have distorted vision and occasional flashes of light. In the early stages of diabetes, the eye lens focus is decreased which temporarily changes its shape. This is because glucose gets accumulated in the eye. This is reversed, once blood sugar levels come back to normal levels.

Tingling or Numbness –

Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, sometimes with a burning pain or swelling, are signs of nerve damaged by elevated sugar levels. But this can be reversed with good sugar control. If blood sugar levels are left uncontrolled for too long, neuropathy (nerve damage) can set in permanently.

Prevention is better than cure

  • • Check your risk of diabetes regularly
  • • Monitor sugar levels at regular intervals
  • • Manage your weight
  • • Exercise regularly
  • • Focus on diet
  • • Sleep for at-least 7-8 hours
  • • Limit alcohol intake
  • • Quit smoking
  • • Visit your doctor regularly
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