12 Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Signs and symptoms of diabetes are important to understand because there are so many people are affected with Diabetes. In the US, 10-11 million people are affected by Diabetes, and every year 500,000-700,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes.

More than 150,000 people are dying every year in the US due to complications of diabetes. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death. Diabetes annual cost of care in the US is more than $20.4 billion.

Diabetes mellitus, is commonly known as diabetes and it is a group of metabolic diseases where a person has high blood sugar because the body is resistant to the insulin produced or the body cannot produce enough insulin. There are four types of diabetes.

  • Type 1 and II are the most well known and common.
  • Type III diabetes is gestational diabetes, and
  • Type IV is diabetes that is associated with effects of drugs, hormonal changes and diseases of the pancreas.

There can be slight differences and events that trigger signs and symptoms of diabetes, but generally the signs and symptoms will be the same especially for Type I and II Diabetes.

The signs and symptoms of both Type 1 and II Diabetes are the same, but for Type 1 they can appear suddenly (days to months) and for Type II the signs and symptoms appear subtly and sinisterly slow (months to years).

12 Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes:

The first 3 symptoms are the classic symptoms of Diabetes, but a person may present with a unique set of symptoms that vary from the classic symptoms, so it is important to know other signs and symptoms of diabetes.

  1. Polyuria– (Frequent urination)

– Excessive and/or frequent urination (~2.5-3L in 24 hours).

– Is due to the body working hard to get rid of excess sugar by increasing the amount of fluids leaving the body in the form of urine.

– If a lab test is done on the urine, there will be presence of glucose in the urine –this is one part of diagnosing Diabetes.

– Before the use of gloves and a better understanding of microorganisms, urine was tasted for the sweet taste to help diagnose diabetes. In 600 B.C., a Hindu physician recorded the sweet taste of diabetic urine. In 1674, a physician noted that the urine in diabetics had a taste like honey.

  1. Polydipsia – (Excessive thirst)

– Excessive and/or increased thirst

– Is due to the body feeling dehydration after the increased urine output\

  1. Polyphagia – (Excessive hunger)

– Excessive hunger or intake of solid foods

– Even though there is enough energy source (glucose) within the body, the body cannot use the glucose and so it triggers the response so the person feels hungry and eats.

  1. Weight Loss

– The body is not able to use the glucose for the energy it needs, so instead it starts using fats and protein. This depletes the body’s store of fats and protein causing the person to lose weight.

– When the body starts to break down fat for energy use, the fats (ketones) will accumulate in the bloodstream and then be filtered out through the kidneys, which will show ketones in the urine. This will make the urine have a fruity smell.

  1. Flu like Symptoms and Weakness

– Flu like symptoms such as tiredness, low energy, fatigue and weakness can be due to diabetes.

– Is due to the body not having enough glucose to metabolize for energy, so the body uses it’s stored fats and proteins for energy

  1. Blurred vision

– Is a common complaint that results in a diabetes diagnosis; Type 1 Diabetes is often the cause of rapid vision changes and Type II often causes gradual vision changes.

– Is due to the blood sugar levels fluctuating causing swelling of the blood vessels that nourish the eye.

– When blood sugar stays elevated for long periods of time, it can cause glucose absorption, which can cause the shape of the lenses of the eyes to change. This leads to vision changes. If blood sugar is kept stable for a sustained period of time, then the lenses of the eyes usually return to the original shape.

  1. Slow Healing and Frequent Infections

– Skin is more fragile, dry and itchy, as well as a person may have frequent infections, cuts or bruises that take a longer time to heal.

– Bladder (urinary tract infections UTIs) and vaginal infections as well as fungal problems such as athlete’s foot can be more common.

  1. Numbness or tingling in arms, hands, legs or feet (generalized numbness and tingling –not specific left or right sided numbness and tingling-this is a medical emergency and you should go to an emergency room right away)

– This is neuropathy and is caused by high glucose in the blood damaging the nervous system –especially in the arms and legs.

-Neuropathy may improve when blood sugars are controlled better.

  1. Diabetic Dermadromes

– Many different skin rashes can be caused by diabetes and grouped together and called diabetic dermadromes

  1. Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

– Is a medical emergency and an extreme complication of diabetes when the body has a shortage of insulin so the body starts metabolizing fatty acids which produces acidic ketones.

– Signs of DKA are acetone smell, vomiting, dehydration, confusion, deep gasping breaths, and even coma.

– Is primarily see with type 1 diabetes, but can occur in type II diabetes, especially with poorly controlled diabetes, underlying illness or previously undiagnosed diabetes.

  1. Hyperosmolar non-ketotic state

– A rare complication usually of dehydration in type II diabetics

– Usually caused when a person drinks a lot of sugar containing drinks causing the body to lose water and become dehydrated.

  1. Heart Problems

– Elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage to the heart and blood vessel walls. Prolonged uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a weakened heart and to heart attacks.

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