High blood sugar can cause gradual, unassuming symptoms that can sneak up on you. Frequent urination and excessive thirst — the telltale signs of type 2 diabetes — are often mild and can easily be attributed to other factors.
In fact, most people don’t even know they have high blood sugar until they’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes glucose (or sugar) levels in the body to rise. The problem is ignoring or writing off the symptoms as something else can lead to more serious health complications later on.
Diabetes is a common condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate more than 34 million people have diabetes in this country, with nearly 95 percent of those cases type 2 diabetes, and about 88 million more are prediabetic.
Summa Health discusses 10 early warning signs of type 2 diabetes. Even if you have subtle symptoms, it’s worth mentioning them to your doctor, especially if you’re at risk for diabetes. The higher the blood sugar level and the longer you go without treatment, the further damage that can be done.
Going to the bathroom more than normal, especially at night, is a sign of high blood sugar. Diabetes causes the kidneys to work harder to remove excess sugar from your blood. When your kidneys can’t keep up, they spill excess sugar into your urine, leading to more frequent urination.
The excess sugar in your urine serves as food for yeast and bacteria. Food coupled with a warm, moist area helps them thrive. So people, especially women, with diabetes often experience frequent urinary tract or yeast infections.
Frequent urination can cause dehydration and you to feel thirsty more often. But, drinking more doesn’t satisfy the thirst.
Your body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. But if you have diabetes, the cells can’t absorb glucose correctly, so your body can’t get enough energy from the food you eat. Therefore, your body is constantly looking for fuel and you’ll feel hungry all the time, even if you just ate.
UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT LOSS:
If your body can’t get enough energy from your food, it will start burning muscle and fat stores instead. So, you may lose weight even if your diet hasn’t changed.
PERSISTENT FATIGUE AND WEAKNESS:
Without enough fuel for energy, you’re left with persistent fatigue and weakness that can interfere with daily activities. Being dehydrated from constant urination can leave you feeling exhausted, as well.
High blood sugar can damage blood vessels in your eyes and you may experience blurry vision in either one or both eyes. If left untreated, permanent damage can occur and lead to more serious complications, even blindness.
SLOW HEALING CUTS AND WOUNDS:
High blood sugar can damage nerves and blood vessels, impairing blood circulation.Poor blood circulation restricts the necessary nutrients and oxygen from getting to cuts and wounds for proper healing. As a result, it can take weeks or even months to heal, increasing your risk for infection.
TINGLING OR NUMBNESS:
Poor blood circulation and nerve damage can cause tingling, numbness or pain in your hands and feet.
DARK SKIN PATCHES:
Diabetes can cause dark, velvety patches of skin in the folds of your neck, armpits or groin due to an excess of insulin in the blood.
REGULAR TESTING IS KEY TO AVOIDING COMPLICATIONS
Because diabetes symptoms can be subtle, it’s important to see your doctor regularly for checkups and diabetes screening.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends everyone age 45 and older be screened for diabetes. However, testing is recommended at any age if you have one or more risk factors for diabetes, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Family history
The test for diabetes is often a simple blood test. For normal results, the ADA recommends repeat screening every three years.
If caught early, type 2 diabetes can be very manageable. Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, can go a long way in managing the condition.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about an evaluation at the first sign of symptoms. Early detection and treatment is vital to improving your quality of life and vastly reducing your risk of severe complications.
Talk to a Summa Health family physician about diabetes screening. To learn more about Summa Health Outpatient Diabetes Services, call 234.312.6420.