Early Warning: A Look at the First Signs of Diabetes
With rates of diabetes among American adults topping 10% by some estimates, the odds that you or someone you know has diabetes are high. The question is, could you have diabetes without knowing it? Unlike some other medical conditions, the early signs of diabetes can be as subtle as needing to drink more water than normal.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the body does not properly convert sugar from the food you eat into energy. Carbs and sugars in your food are converted into glucose during digestion. Your blood vessels then carry this sugar throughout your body to make it available for your cells to convert into energy. Your body uses the hormone insulin to process glucose. Your body may not produce enough insulin, or your cells can become resistant to it. When either of these conditions happen, you can end up in a state where your body cannot extract glucose from your bloodstream, resulting in higher than normal blood sugar levels.
The majority of cases of diabetes are categorized into either type 1 or type 2. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed early in life, and the causes are still under investigation. It is thought that there may be a mixture of genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental factors such as viral infections that trigger the onset of type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is typically the result of poor diet and lifestyle choices that make you predisposed to high blood sugar levels.
Early Signs of Diabetes
The early signs of diabetes are rather subtle, and most people may not recognize them. Thankfully, if you know what to look for, the warning signs of diabetes can give you time to ward off the more damaging symptoms of this disease such as diabetic neuropathy.
The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes will typically come on slowly, and include:
- frequent urination
- blurry vision
- yeast infections (such as urinary tract infections)
- dry mouth
- itchy skin
- dry skin
- skin infections
- excessive thirst
The signs of type 1 diabetes can come on much faster, and include different symptoms such as:
- unexplained weight loss
- vomiting and nausea
When you have type 1 diabetes, glucose becomes less available and your body uses other sources of energy for fuel such as fat, which can lead to increased levels of ketones building up in your blood.
What are the 3 Most Common Symptoms of Undiagnosed Diabetes?
Three of the earliest signs of diabetes you may notice include frequent urination, increased thirst, and unexplained hunger. As your body tries to deal with increasing blood glucose levels, your kidneys need to work harder to filter out the glucose, meaning you will need to pee more often. This, in turn, leads to dehydration, which explains why you feel thirsty.
Since your body is not processing the food you eat into energy, you will still feel hungry. This can start a vicious cycle as you eat more food, which leads to more excess sugar being added to your bloodstream.
What are the First Signs of Being a Diabetic?
The first signs of insulin resistance typically come on very slowly for people with high blood sugar levels. Blurry vision, increased urination, feeling hungry, extreme thirst, and finding that you have itchy, dry skin are all warning signs that you could be in the early stages of type 2 diabetes.
Some other signs may be harder to pin down. For women, an increase in the frequency of urinary tract infections can be a sign of high blood sugar, but this is only one possible cause of a UTI. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the unexplained weight loss and vomiting can also come from a host of gastrointestinal conditions and diseases including serious conditions such as cancer. Similarly, dry, itchy skin could be a sign you are progressing through the stages of prediabetes, but there are also a host of other skin conditions that could be at play.
One thing to consider is how slowly your symptoms appear or worsen. Typically, your blood sugar levels rise slowly over months or years, which can make the appearance of individual symptoms harder to spot. One exception to how quickly symptoms appear is gestational diabetes that affects women during pregnancy. The rapid changes in hormones associated with pregnancy can mean that you produce insulin or reabsorb it differently, even if you do not have some of the risk factors that are typically present at the onset of symptoms in people who are not pregnant.
Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Diabetes
Early symptoms are not a death sentence, particularly in the case of type 2 diabetes. Paying attention to early symptoms of diabetes can allow you to make lifestyle changes before you begin suffering from some of the more serious complications of diabetes.
If you have a family history of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease, and other such health problems, you may be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Paying attention to early symptoms, and talking to your healthcare provider can help you take action to support your own wellness and avoid some of the more frightening consequences of diabetes such as diabetic neuropathy, heart disease, and vision loss (diabetic retinopathy).
Talking to your Doctor About Diabetes
As is the case with so many medical conditions, getting an early diagnosis is critical to staying as healthy as you can. With diabetes, this is particularly important as the long-term consequences of living with diabetes include permanent nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease, and other potentially lethal complications. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the main causes of disease onset are linked to lifestyle factors, so an early diagnosis can allow you time to make changes to your diet and lifestyle that can delay, stall, or even reverse the progress of your symptoms.
At TrustCare, we know the first steps to finding a diagnosis can be the most difficult. Our many walk-in clinics are open seven days a week to make it as easy as possible to get access to medical professionals who can help you understand what is going on in your body.
With rates of prediabetes running at nearly three times the number of confirmed cases of type 2 diabetes, the chance that you may be at risk of diabetes or already in the early stages of the disease is quite high. Early symptoms like frequent urination may not seem alarming, but if they appear alongside risk factors such as obesity, you should visit your healthcare provider as soon as you can.
The initial symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be so mild you hardly notice them, but the effects of prolonged high blood sugar can be severe and even life-threatening. Changing your lifestyle, habits, and your diet can save you from serious and debilitating consequences like losing your vision or nerve and circulation problems. If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above and have not been diagnosed with diabetes, it may be time to visit one of our many locations today.