Recognizing The Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
The warning signs can be subtle, especially for Type 2 diabetes, so how can you spot them?
The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that came out in 2021 state that more than 37 million Americans, about one out of every 10, have diabetes. Of these people, about 1 in 5 still don’t know they have diabetes.
What’s even more alarming is that there are approximately 96 million American adults out there who are prediabetic and well on their way to developing Type 2 diabetes. That’s 1 out of every 3 Americans! What’s worse, more than 80% of these individuals have no clue they are racing down the road to a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, which is why they are doing nothing to slow or prevent the disease.
But what if these individuals could identify the telltale symptoms? What if you could recognize the signs of diabetes early on and maybe even catch things in the prediabetic stage? While spotting the symptoms may be easier said than done, in this post we’ll look at some of the warning signs of diabetes and dig into some of the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Early signs of diabetes
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are related to the production and/or processing of the hormone insulin. This hormone is important because the body uses it to move sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is transformed into the energy that keeps you moving each day. When the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it does produce properly, sugar can no longer efficiently be removed from the bloodstream. Eventually, blood sugar builds up leading to hyperglycemia and the onset of diabetes.
While individuals managing diagnosed diabetes tend to wrestle with both blood sugar highs (hyperglycemia) and blood sugar lows (hypoglycemia) due to medications and lifestyle factors, it is always hyperglycemia that indicates the onset of diabetes.
Therefore, many of the warning signs for both Type 1 and Type diabetes are the same. They include:
Hunger & Fatigue
If the body cannot effectively turn blood sugar into energy, it only makes sense that one of the early signs of diabetes is feeling tired or exhausted. This is often accompanied by an unusual hunger.
More Frequent Urination
When diabetes pushes blood sugar to higher-than-normal levels, it can impact the function of the kidneys. While the average person urinates between four and seven times a day, someone with untreated diabetes may go far more frequently than that.
If you are urinating more often than usual with untreated diabetes, you’re also likely to begin feeling a bit dehydrated and extremely thirsty. Of course, this should prompt you to drink more fluids, which, in turn, will lead to more frequent urination.
Itchy Skin and/or Dry Mouth
Frequent urination means the body has less moisture available for other things. This can lead to the skin feeling dry and itchy. It can also lead to dry mouth due to dehydration.
Diabetes can also cause inflammation in the lenses of the eyes, which can lead to blurry vision.
If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to see your physician right away and ask about testing for diabetes. Diagnosing can be done with a simple blood test. Now, let’s look at some signs associated more commonly with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms
Type 1 diabetes usually occurs at a young age, either in childhood or the teenage years. However, it can happen at any age. The thing about Type 1 diabetes is that it comes fast. In fact, the symptoms above can present themselves within days or weeks of developing the disease. There are two other telltale signs that Type 1 diabetes may have developed.
Unexpected weight loss
When the body can’t get energy from food because it can’t process blood sugar, it begins burning muscle and fat for energy. Because Type 1 diabetes develops quite rapidly the body starts burning muscle and fat earlier and quicker, which can lead to weight loss, even if the person had made no dietary or lifestyle changes.
Nausea and vomiting
If the body begins to burn fat for energy, it produces a byproduct known as ketones. When ketones build up it can cause feelings of nausea and stomach pain, as well as vomiting. This is a very dangerous problem because if ketones build up too high it can lead to a life-threatening condition known as ketoacidosis that will require immediate medical attention.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
The big issue with type two diabetes is that it develops very, very slowly. It takes years for the disease to show up and few symptoms present themselves until blood sugar has already been high for some period and it’s too late to prevent Type 2 diabetes. This is the reason more than 80% of prediabetes cases remain undiagnosed in America as mentioned in the intro of this post.
Along with the symptoms general to diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is also often associated with the following:
Yeast feeds on glucose, so when your bloodstream is overloaded with it, there’s ample opportunity for these infections to thrive. They can happen between fingers and toes, under the fingernails, as well as in or around sexual organs.
If left uncontrolled for too long, high blood sugar can impede proper blood flow and cause nerve damage. This can cause a lack of sensation, making it harder to feel cuts and bruises, especially in areas like the feet, so they remain untreated. It also slows the body’s ability to heal these wounds.
Pain or numbness in the extremities
Prolonged high blood sugar can cause nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy, which usually manifests itself in the feet and legs, causing numbness and/or pain.
The Type 2 diabetes advantage
Again, if you experience any of the symptoms associated with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, see your physician right away. A simple blood test will determine whether or not you are diabetic.
By the way, this same test can also tell doctors whether or not you’re prediabetic. This is a huge advantage if you’re on the road to developing Type 2 diabetes. Granted, by the time you experience symptoms you may already be in the early stages of the disease. However, there’s a chance you could still be in the prediabetic stage. The sooner you find out, the better your chances of delaying or even preventing Type 2 diabetes.
When caught in the prediabetic stage, dietary and lifestyle changes can often slow, if not downright halt, an individual’s progression into Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors
Because the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes take so long to present themselves, rather than waiting around to experience them, it’s a good idea to know the risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes.
– Family history
– Lack of physical activity
– 45 years or older
– Have had gestational diabetes
If you’re living with any of these risk factors, your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes are markedly higher than those without these factors. Talk to your doctor about your risk for Type 2 diabetes and whether or not a blood test is warranted in your case. Even if you can’t prevent a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, the earlier you understand the situation, the easier it will be to manage your disease.
We hope you found this post informative and insightful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we committed to helping those with diabetes manage their disease with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at prices up to 65% less those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.