Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs as a result of high blood glucose and knowing the early signs of diabetes helps in its timely management. The high blood sugar can be as a results of your Pancreas not secreting insulin at all. This is called Type 1 Diabetes or Juvenile diabetes. If your Pancreas secrets insulin but your body becomes resistant to the insulin being produced. This is Type 2 Diabetes or adult onset Diabetes.
When you eat carbohydrates (starchy foods, sugary foods, fruits, and daily products), they are broken down in the stomach into glucose. Glucose gets into your bloodstream through absorption in the intestines, and when it reaches certain levels, your pancreas produces insulin hormone. The insulin hormone helps the glucose in the bloodstream reach your cells.
When your body becomes resistant to insulin or is unable to produce enough insulin, the glucose in your blood is unable to reach your cells. The level of blood sugar (glucose) continues to rise with time. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body responds to the demand for glucose in your cells by triggering the liver to produce more glucose. The level of glucose continues to rise and starts causing other complications. If you have type 1 diabetes where your body is unable to produce insulin, your body responds to the demand for glucose in your cells by using fats for energy causing weight loss.
Knowing the early symptoms of diabetes can help you seek treatment on time and prevent severe complications. A person with type 2 diabetes can take up to ten years before realizing s/he has diabetes. The following are some of the early symptoms of diabetes that you need to know.
- Frequent Urination-Polyuria
Frequent urination is a common early symptom of diabetes. When your blood glucose is high, your body tries to lower it through your kidneys. The kidneys start to filter the excess glucose out of the blood. The kidneys take a lot of water to be able to remove the blood sugar from your body resulting in frequent urination. If you have started needing to urinate more frequently, especially at night, you should visit your doctor and have your blood sugar level tested.
- Increased Thirst-Polydipsia
Your body is losing a lot of water in the efforts to get rid of excess blood sugar. To replace the lost water, you are likely to experience increased thirst. If you fail to drink plenty of water when your blood sugar is high and experiencing frequent urination, you will start exhibiting symptoms of dehydration. If you have been experiencing increased thirst even in the cold months, that might be an early sign of diabetes.
- Increased hunger- Polyphagia, also known as hyperphagia
Because your cells are not getting enough energy from the food you eat, your body responds to the cells’ demand for glucose by releasing the Ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a circulating hormone produced by enteroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach, and is often called a “hunger hormone” because it increases food intake. Blood levels of ghrelin are highest before meals when hungry, returning to lower levels after mealtimes. Ghrelin hormone increases your appetite, and that might be the reason why your body is asking for a meal every two or three hours. Unfortunately, if you are experiencing increased hunger as a result of diabetes, eating carbohydrates won’t help. You should opt for proteins and fats.
Feeling tired even before working is a common early symptom of diabetes. The reason why diabetic people feel tired even in the morning before they start working is because glucose in their bloodstream is unable to reach their cells. Your body cells depend on glucose for energy. Low energy levels and fatigue before working is a sign that your body cells are not getting enough glucose for energy.
- Itching and yeast infections
The excess glucose in your blood and urine provides food for yeast. If you have started getting yeast infections in the warm and moist areas of your skin such as genital areas, armpits, and mouth, that is a sign that your blood sugar level is higher than the optimum level. If you have a yeast infection that goes and comes back after some time or isn’t healing, you should check your blood sugar levels.
- Slow healing of wounds
High blood sugar levels damage your nerve endings and blood vessels, which impairs blood circulation. Due to the poor blood circulation, some parts of your body are unable to get enough oxygen. Small wounds and cuts start taking longer to heal due to impaired blood circulation. High blood sugar also increases the risk of bacterial infections in the wound because the excess glucose in the bloodstream acts as food to bacteria.
- Blurry vision
Excess blood sugar damages both the nerve endings and blood capillaries in the eye. These damages cause a blurry vision, either in one or both eyes. If you are experiencing a blurry vision, you should check your blood sugar level and start treatment immediately if you have diabetes. Failure to seek medication on time, the damages in the capillaries in your eyes will continue, and you might end up losing your sight. Diabetes can cause permanent vision loss.
- Numbness or pain in your hands or feet-Polyneuropathy
Because unattended diabetes has the potential to damage blood capillaries and body nerves, people with type 2 diabetes are likely to experience tingling, numbness, or pain in the feet and hands. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy and worsens with time.
- Dark skin patches-Acanthosis nigricans
Dark skin patches on your armpits, groin, back of your neck, or elsewhere in the body are signs that you have an extremely high level of insulin in your blood. Insulin level in your blood increases in response to high blood sugar levels. When your body detects a high blood sugar level, it triggers your pancreas to release insulin to help the glucose in your blood reach your body cells. The level of insulin continues to rise until the level of blood sugar gets back to the optimum level.
Conclusion: Early Signs of Diabetes
If you have any of the above early symptoms of diabetes, you should check your blood sugar levels. If the test results show that your blood sugar level is high, but you are still not diabetic, you are pre-diabetic:
What Should You Do?
- You can contact your primary care physician or
- You should start exercising and avoiding processed carbs. Eating healthy and regular physical exercises may help reverse the condition and make the symptoms of diabetes disappear. This is for those with type 2 Diabetes or Adult onset Diabetes.
- If you have Type 1 Diabetes, Diet and Exercises will not lower your blood sugar, because we are dealing with your pancreas not producing insulin and you should see your doctor right away.
A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 7.0 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. This result is sometimes called impaired fasting glucose. A fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher indicates type 2 diabetes.
If your blood sugar test result shows you are diabetic, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss the best treatment. Remember, starting treatment early increases its effectiveness and reduces your chances of complications developed due to diabetes when you see any of the early signs of diabetes.