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How to Spot the Warning Signs of Diabetes

July 19, 2019

Diabetes is a serious medical condition that comes in two forms: Type 1 and Type 2. Both are chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates blood sugar. In Type 1 diabetes, the more serious of the two, the body is unable to make insulin. And Type 2 diabetes is more common than you might think. A 2017 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 30.3 million Americans were living with the disease. An additional 84.1 million had prediabetes, which the CDC said can lead to full-blown diabetes within five years if left untreated. By learning the symptoms that could mean trouble, you can recognize when to get treatment before the disease progresses.

Prediabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes

Prediabetes is diagnosed when your body’s blood sugar (also called blood glucose) level is higher than it should be, but isn’t yet into the diabetes range. This is the stage when Type 2 diabetes symptoms might begin appearing. However, they might not be severe enough for you to notice.

Regardless, it’s important not to ignore signs that something might be amiss. Diabetes is a serious — and possibly life-threatening — disease. If you’re able to get treatment now, you might be able to prevent Type 2 diabetes from occurring at all.

Know the Warning Signs

Higher-than-normal blood sugar levels can cause a number of changes in your body. It’s best to check with your doctor if you’re recognizing any of these symptoms:

  • More frequent urination. One function of your kidneys is to filter excess sugar out of your blood. So, if you’re making more trips to the bathroom than usual — especially at night — it could be a sign your blood sugar is rising.
  • Greater thirst. More frequent urination can lead to dehydration. This can mean you’re feeling more thirsty than usual.
  • Feeling hungry more often. Type 2 diabetes affects your cells’ ability to absorb sugar for energy. This can make you feel hungry even if you’ve recently eaten. It also can lead you to lose weight, even if your diet and exercise levels haven’t changed.
  • Feeling fatigued. Dehydration and the inability to properly absorb sugar also can lead to low energy levels, so you might feel tired more often.
  • Blurry vision. Excess blood sugar can damage blood vessels in your eyes. As a result, you might experience blurry vision in either one or both eyes. Even if this comes and goes, it can still indicate a problem.
  • Slow-healing cuts and tingling or numbness in hands or feet. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels. As a result, even small cuts and wounds can be very slow to heal. This damage also can cause neuropathy, a feeling of pain, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
  • Discolored skin patches. Insulin resistance can cause a condition called acanthosis nigricans. This appears as dark skin patches in neck folds and over knuckles.
  • Itchiness and yeast infections. Higher sugar levels in urine can help feed urinary tract and yeast infections, especially in women.