Recognizing the Symptoms of Diabetes

By Shirley Brown, Economic Security Team Member
What is diabetes? Diabetes is the inability of your body to use blood glucose for energy. There are several types of this disease, however I will address Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is a more severe form because the pancreas no longer makes insulin. This is when blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, where either the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.
Knowing the symptoms of diabetes can be very helpful in recognizing whether you may be a candidate for the disease and should consult a physician. Some of the symptoms are:

  1. Hunger: Hunger and thirst are one the first signs that you experience with the onset of diabetes, causing drastic high and low blood sugar levels. Persons who are obese may not realize that they have diabetes which has caused them to over eat. 
  2. Increase in thirst and urination: If for no apparent reason you suddenly find that you need to go to the bathroom more often than usual, talk to your doctor to find out whether you may have diabetes. You use the bathroom more often because your kidneys are desperate to get rid of the extra glucose in you blood. You have become thirstier because your body is trying to replenish this loss.
  3. Vision Problems: Vision can often play a role with diabetes patients. High blood sugar can cause problems with the blood vessels in the back of the eye, which can result in blurry vision and even blindness.
  4. Irritability: Often overlooked but equally important is irritability and anxiety, which is often related to low blood sugar. Patients are bound to become cranky and irritable, not knowing why, because they are feeling so uncomfortable and ill. These feelings can be a cause for mood changes.
  5. Infections: A weak immune system can make a person susceptible to infections. Woman are more likely to have yeast infections, while men are more likely to have a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics are recommended along with other forms of treatment to help avoid developing infections. 
  6. Slow Healing Wounds, Cuts, and Sores: The body may have an inability to heal wounds as effectively and quickly as normal. Some bruises or cuts are slow to heal due to blood vessels that may be damaged and hinder the healing process. This can eventually lead to bacterial infection, fungal infections, or even gangrene.
  7. Skin Problems: Skin that is itchy and extremely dry may be a sign of diabetes. If using lotions and oils do not seem to help, you may need to consult a dermatologist.
  8. Numbness: Numbness can be a sign of diabetes if you are feeling it in your hands or feet. Diabetes may have damaged your nervous system which leads to a numb or tingling feeling in your extremities.
  9. Fatigue: The feeling of being tired and exhausted for no logical reason can also be a sign of onset diabetes. Feeling less energetic, foggy, and weak may be a result of glucose not being stored correctly in your body.
  10. Weight Loss: Unusual weight loss when you are not dieting, is a common sign of diabetes. The body is not only losing fat, but also muscle. This is important to monitor and consult with your doctor. 

Thankfully many types of diabetes can be treated by focusing on a change in diet, exercise and lifestyle. Patients who receive educational and material resources can successfully manage their diabetes. Most definitely inquire with your doctor and possibly be screened for diabetes. If your blood sugar levels are high, oral medications can be used to help the body use its own insulin more efficiently. In some cases, insulin injections are necessary.
More and more people are becoming diabetic, both young and old. Please get tested if you have any of these symptoms and feel out of your norm.
If you want to get involved, you can take a pledge to help stop diabetes.