Diabetes symptoms: When to consult your doctor
Diabetes symptoms: When to consult your doctor

Diabetes symptoms are often subtle. Here's what to look for Û and when to consult your doctor.

Early diabetes symptoms can be subtle or seemingly harmless Û if you have them at all. In fact, you could have diabetes for months or even years and not even know it.

In the United States alone, more than 6 million people are unaware that they have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. But you don't need to become a statistic. Understanding possible diabetes symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment Û and a lifetime of better health.

Excessive thirst and increased urination
Excessive thirst and increased urination are classic diabetes symptoms.

When you have diabetes, excess sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood. Your kidneys are forced to work overtime to filter and absorb the excess sugar. If your kidneys can't keep up, the excess sugar is excreted into your urine along with fluids drawn from your tissues. This triggers more frequent urination, which may leave you dehydrated. As you drink more fluids to quench your thirst, you'll urinate even more.

Flu-like feeling
Sometimes diabetes symptoms resemble a flu-like illness. You may notice fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite. That's because poorly controlled diabetes hampers your body's ability to use sugar for energy. Instead of fueling your cells, the sugar remains in your blood. This leaves you feeling tired and run down.

Weight loss or gain
Weight fluctuations also fall under the umbrella of possible diabetes symptoms. When you lose sugar through frequent urination, you also lose calories. At the same time, diabetes may keep the sugar from your food from reaching your cells Û leading to constant hunger. The combined effect is potentially rapid weight loss, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.

Weight gain is a concern, too. Excess weight can make your tissues more resistant to the action of insulin, which increases your blood sugar level. And the more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become. That's why being overweight is a prime risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Blurred vision
Diabetes symptoms sometimes settle in the eyes. High levels of blood sugar pull fluid from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes. This affects your ability to focus.

Left untreated, diabetes can cause new blood vessels to form in your retina Û the back part of your eye Û as well as damage old vessels. For most people this causes only mild vision problems, such as dark spots, flashing lights or rings around lights. But for others, the effects can be much more serious. In some cases, diabetes can lead to blindness.

Slow-healing sores or frequent infections
High levels of blood sugar impair your body's natural healing process and your ability to fight infections. For women, bladder and vaginal infections are especially common.

Tingling hands and feet
Excess sugar in your blood can lead to nerve damage. You may notice tingling and loss of sensation in your hands and feet, as well as burning pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet.

Red, swollen, tender gums
Diabetes may weaken your ability to fight germs, which increases the risk of infection in your gums and in the bones that hold your teeth in place. Your gums may pull away from your teeth, your teeth may become loose, or you may develop sores or pockets of pus in your gums Û especially if you have a gum infection before diabetes develops.

Take your body's hints seriously
If you notice any possible diabetes symptoms, contact your doctor. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. Diabetes is a serious condition. But with your active participation and the support of your health care team, you can manage diabetes while enjoying an active, healthy life.

Comments: 0