Diabetes: The Warning Signs

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Diabetes: The Warning Signs

Diabetes can lead to serious health complications so be aware of the warning signs.

Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood. Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers blood glucose. Absence or insufficient production of insulin, or an inability of the body to properly use insulin causes diabetes. Diabetes has plenty of early signs, but they're subtle enough that you might not notice. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health complications, hence it's important to be aware of any warning signs and get tested for diabetes if you have any of the symptoms. Treating diabetes early can help prevent serious complications. Here are the signs to look out for:

Increased urination, excessive thirst: If you feel the need to urinate frequently, particularly if you get up at night more often than usual to use the bathroom, it could be a symptom of diabetes. The kidneys have to get rid of all that extra glucose in the blood, hence the urge to relieve yourself. There is excessive thirst which means your body is trying to replenish those lost fluids.

Unexplained weight loss: High blood sugar levels can lead to weight loss but this is not a healthy weight loss. Because the insulin hormone isn't getting glucose into the cells, where it can be used as energy, the body thinks it's starving and starts breaking down protein from the muscles as an alternate source of fuel.

Hunger: Excessive hunger is another sign of diabetes and can come from sharp peaks and lows in blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels plummet, the body thinks it hasn't been fed and craves more of the glucose that cells need to function.

Skin problems: Itchy skin, perhaps the result of dry skin or poor circulation, can often be a warning sign of diabetes, as are other skin conditions, such as acanthosis nigricans, which is a darkening of the skin around the neck or armpit area.

Slow healing of wounds: Infections, cuts, and bruises that don't heal quickly are another sign of diabetes. This usually happens because the blood vessels are being damaged by the excessive amounts of glucose traveling in the veins and arteries. This makes it hard for blood, which is needed to facilitate healing, to reach different areas of the body.

Fatigue and irritability: Ongoing fatigue is an important symptom to pay attention to; it might mean the food you're eating for energy isn't being broken down and used by cells as it's supposed to. When you have high blood sugar levels, you just don't feel well and might become short-tempered. In fact, high blood sugar can mimic depression-like symptoms. You feel very tired, you don't feel like doing anything, you don't want to go out and may just want to sleep.

Blurry vision: In the early stages of diabetes, the eye lens is not focusing well because glucose builds up in the eye, which temporarily changes its shape. Having distorted vision and seeing floaters or occasional flashes of light are a direct result of high blood sugar levels.

If you have any of the above mentioned warnings signs of diabetes, discuss it with your doctor and get the necessary tests done to establish the diagnosis of diabetes. These warning signs may not necessarily mean you have diabetes but if you do, with the right diet, regular exercise, and medications (if needed), you can manage type 2 diabetes easily and live an active and a productive life.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information. 

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