Have you recently been experiencing changes in your health and wondered if they may be indicative of something else? Or caught yourself wondering, "What are the warning signs of diabetes?" Well, you are not alone.
As the number of people diagnosed with type II diabetes continues to climb year after year, it is only natural that we are becoming more aware of the disease. And while awareness of the condition may be on the rise, a good understanding of the early warning signs of diabetes is still not common around the world — leaving people vulnerable to developing the disease without even knowing it.
With this in mind, we wanted to share this helpful guide on how to know if you have diabetes, highlighting 10 of the most common early symptoms that people can easily miss. Whether you are wondering about your current health or are worried about a loved one, read on to learn more about the early signs of diabetes.
How do you know if you have diabetes?
Affecting both men and women, diabetes impacts a person's ability to adjust and maintain their blood glucose levels, leading to long-term exposure to chronically high blood sugars that can cause significant damage throughout the body. As a progressive hormonal condition that impacts the health and function of various body systems and organs, pre-symptoms of diabetes can vary significantly from person to person. Because of this, early detection of the disease allows for early diagnosis and treatment, which can reduce the severity of diabetic symptoms later down the line.
But, even though getting diagnosed early should be the gold standard of care, this tends to be easier said than done. Depending on your age, pre-existing medical comorbidities, diet, lifestyle, genetic components, and more, the specific early symptoms of diabetes that you experience may differ significantly from others going through the same thing.
With this in mind, becoming educated about the most common early warning signs is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from living with undiagnosed diabetes for an extended period.
Pre-Symptoms Of Diabetes
As we mentioned above, diabetes is a progressive endocrine disease, meaning that the severity of the associated symptoms will continue to worsen for as long as they are not adequately addressed. Initially, it is very common for a person to experience no signs of any kind despite having elevated blood glucose levels. While many people may view this as a positive, it is quite problematic for the person involved. It means they are beginning to develop a chronic disease but have no warning signs to alert them to seek medical attention. Over time, symptoms will emerge, but only after some level of damage has been sustained and caused imbalances in the body.
This is why you must speak to your primary healthcare provider as soon as you notice any changes to your baseline health, as there is a good chance that these early symptoms are covering up a disease that has been present for longer than you may think.
With this in mind, the 10 early signs of diabetes that we want you to be aware of include:
- The need to urinate frequently: If you have noticed that you need to go to the washroom more than usual, this may be an early warning sign of type II diabetes. When our blood sugar levels are high, our kidneys (as part of our urinary system) work extra hard to filter out the excess glucose by creating a larger volume of urine. So, if you feel like your need to urinate has dramatically increased, this could be a sign that you are at risk of developing diabetes.
- Chronic dehydration and thirst: As the kidneys are overworking themselves to remove the excess sugar in the blood, they are taking extra water out of your cells and bloodstream to create the urine needed to excrete the glucose. Because of this, it is very common for people with early-onset diabetes to be chronically dehydrated while also experiencing profound thirst that is out of their control.
- Visual disturbances: Diabetes is known to impact the health and function of our small blood vessels, and the delicate capillaries in our eyes are incredibly vulnerable to high blood glucose levels caused by the early stages of the disease. Since it is capable of causing swelling and damage to the lining of these small vessels, blurry vision is a common early warning sign of diabetes.
- Unexplained weight loss: If you have lost over 10 lbs or 5% of your overall body weight recently without making strides to improve your diet or exercise regime, this may be a sign that you are developing diabetes. As your body flushes out the excess glucose and water from your body in an attempt to regulate your blood sugar levels, it is very common for inexplicable weight loss to occur.
- Excessive hunger: While it may seem counterintuitive, as your body is removing the extra glucose from your blood, you will also be craving glucose. On a physiological level, our body wants to keep everything at an equilibrium. So, as you remove sugar from your body at a fast rate, your body will naturally want to replace it, triggering hunger cues that can become very profound as the disease progresses.
- Increased fatigue: As your body is put into overdrive in an attempt to maintain a state of homeostasis (balance within the body), it is very common for a person to experience increased fatigue. While this is a vague symptom caused by various health conditions, it is still worth mentioning to your doctor if you notice profound changes in your daily energy levels.
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the limbs: Diabetic neuropathy is a common neurological symptom that develops due to nerve damage caused by chronically high blood sugar levels. Impairing the normal function of the peripheral nerves in the toes, feet, and hands, feelings of numbness, tingling, pain, or even burning are associated with this disease. As a clear sign of advancing diabetes, it is highly advised that you seek medical attention the first time you experience these symptoms.
- Weakened immune system: During early-onset diabetes, the body is so overwhelmed and preoccupied trying to stabilize blood glucose levels that it becomes weaker in other areas. One system that is hit particularly hard by diabetes is the immune system, which will struggle to keep up with the additional stress caused by the changing blood sugar levels. As a result, it is prevalent for people with pre-diabetes to catch illnesses like a cold or the flu as the body is less able to defend itself.
- Developing wounds that do not heal quickly: In a similar vein as above, a weakened immune system also impacts a person's ability to heal after an injury. Impairing the typical healing process, having chronically high blood glucose levels due to undiagnosed diabetes can lead to an increased risk of wound infections and slower overall healing times.
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and unwell: Depending on when and what you last ate, people with pre-diabetes will experience profound peaks and valleys in their blood sugar levels before receiving treatment. Because of this, many people can experience lightheadedness and dizziness as their blood sugar rises or falls throughout the day. If you or someone you love has been experiencing these symptoms, it is best to seek medical addition and run diagnostic testing for diabetes.
The bottom line
As more and more people are diagnosed with type II diabetes worldwide, knowing the early signs of diabetes has never been more critical. By learning about these symptoms, you can better identify and monitor their development in yourself or a loved one. This is the best way to protect the person affected from experiencing severe symptoms as the disease progresses.
We hope this article has been a helpful guide for anyone looking to learn more about diabetes. Please check out our other blog posts for more helpful information about this disease.
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