Doctors diagnose diabetes when someone is having a higher blood glucose level than the normal or pre-diabetes levels, over a period. It is a long-term (or chronic) non-transmissible health condition.
Blood sugar level goes up due to various reasons. According to the causative factors, Diabetes Mellitus categorize mainly into two types, Type 1 and Type 2. We have discussed the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
more in detail previously.
Insulin is a hormone that controls our blood glucose level. Insulin resistance is the primary cause of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
As with any other disease, with diabetes, there are signs and symptoms which gives us clues about the disease. Some appear well before a doctor confirms your diagnosis. Observing these symptoms will help you to identify the disease at early stages itself.
The common symptoms of Diabetes are listed below.
- Increased frequency of urination
To remove excess glucose in the blood, kidney function increases to filter more and more waste. That results in excess urine production and increase frequency.
- Excessive thirst
High kidney function to remove liquid from the body will result in increased blood concentration, which will then stimulate the thirst centers in the brain for you to urge drinking more water.
- Feeling hungry and craving for sugar
Insulin is the transporter of glucose into cells. In diabetes, when insulin resistance occurs, this process will not happen sufficiently. To carry out the body processes well, more and more insulin produced in the pancreas. High insulin production generates signals to the brain indicating that your body is starving. That leads to increased appetite and craving for sugar.
- Extreme fatigue, tiredness and lethargy
As described earlier insulin help for transportation of glucose into cells. When there is no glucose available at cells, energy production paused and minimized. Lack of energy leads to fatigue, tiredness and lethargy in patients with diabetes. Also, as a result, you may experience dehydration and disruption to sleep, which could contribute to fatigue. It is a cyclic process!
- Blurred vision
Due to the high blood glucose level, the lens of the eye swells, which lead to a misfocus and blurred vision.
- Slow healing wounds
When the blood glucose level is higher than normal, it prevents nutrients and oxygen entering cells, suppresses immune system functions and weakens inflammatory response by body cells. All these slowdowns the healing process.
- Weight loss even you eat more
In diabetes mellitus, body cells cannot use glucose to produce energy due to insufficient or ineffective insulin which prevents the use of glucose from the blood. Consequently, the body starts burning fat and muscles to produce energy. This causes weight loss in diabetes. Loss of water due to excessive urination is also a contributory factor to potential weight loss.
- Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and feet.
Long term untreated high blood sugar level can lead to pain, tingling and numbness in hands or feet as a result of weakened or damaged vessels and nerve endings. Self-repair is difficult because they are tiny sourced mainly by proper nutrition and blood supply. Without proper nutrition, their blood flow is sluggish, also due to the distance from the heart.
- Skin infections, itching and ulcers
High blood sugar levels can precipitate skin infections, and it is the primary cause of itching and ulcers. Also, high blood sugar levels can cause skin dryness which leads to excessive scratching, discomfort and pain. Due to excessive fluid loss, poor blood circulation towards skin is another cause of skin dryness. These conditions make your legs prone to wounds and ulcers.
- Mood swinging
Low blood sugar level at less than 70mmol/L can cause irritability, sadness, anxious and difficult in making decisions.
High blood sugar levels above 250mmol/L may cause confusion, difficulty in thinking clearly and quickly, feeling nervous and tiredness.
- Headache & dizziness
People with high blood sugar levels may experience headache, dizziness or lightheadedness. These symptoms may occur due to dehydration after passing excess glucose in urine.
Postural hypotension is another cause for dizziness which is common among people with high blood sugar levels.
Women may have all the symptoms and signs mentioned above, but there are other symptoms unique to women too.
These symptoms are as follows.
- Symptoms of vaginal bacterial infections
A vagina is a moist place in women’s body, easily invadable by bacteria due to its moist environment. When blood glucose level goes up, and immunity drops in diabetes, that produces an excellent medium for bacteria to grow. Symptoms of bacterial growth are:
- Vaginal itching and pain
- Vaginal discharges
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Sore skin surrounding the vagina
- Symptoms of oral and vaginal yeast infections
Yeast is a fungus. Yeast usually lives in our body surface, but when our immunity goes down due to diabetes, the yeast begins to invade our tissues especially the wet and cold surfaces of our body. As such, the vagina and the oral cavity are the main points of women’s body which tend to invade by yeast.
The features of yeast infection are as follows.
- White patches inside the mouth
- Swollen gums and cheeks due to oral thrush
- Whitish discharge from the vagina
- Pain, redness and soreness due to vaginal thrush
- Symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTI)
As described earlier, high blood glucose level affects blood vessels and could reduce blood circulation to the genital area and reduce immune cell concentration in the area. So with a deficient immunity, the female genital tract is at risk of infections. Especially female with diabetes are having a higher chance of getting urinary tract infections than in women with healthy blood glucose level.
Symptoms of UTIs include painful micturition, burning sensation of the urethra, and cloudy urine.
- Sexual dysfunction
Most women with high blood glucose level have a decreased libido. The reasons for that are
- Reduced blood flow to the vagina due to blood vessel damage
- Nerve damage due to high blood sugar level may lead to vaginal dryness and decreased sensation.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
The polycystic ovarian syndrome is a combination of symptoms that itself increases the risk of developing Diabetes Mellitus because of increased resistance to insulin. Women with PCOS may show the following signs and symptoms,
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Darkening of the skin in neck, armpits or groin
- Weight gain
- Thinning of scalp hair
- Excess hair growth on the face and the body
As we know, early identification and diagnosis is the key to reverse type 2 diabetes. If you keep an eye on the above signs and symptoms, you are well-equipped to be ahead of diabetes.
We can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by identifying it early.
Ultimately, the key to reducing the risk and reversing Type 2 Diabetes is through the below, as noted in other articles.
- Make changes to the lifestyle and the diet. For instance, reduce carbohydrate intake, increase good fat consumption like avocado and reduce the deep-fried foods, and increase consumption of vegetables and fruits,
- Maintain ideal weight for your height, and
- Do regular exercises.