Diabetes symptoms present themselves differently in different people. In many cases, the disease remains undiagnosed because the patients do not experience any symptom at all. Also, due to the fact that the symptoms of diabetes are mild, they are often ignored. Diabetes is a devastating disease that has to be taken seriously. Early detection and treatment of this condition can help the patient to lead a normal life and also prevent many serious long term complications associated with the disease. An awareness of the warning signs is therefore critical to diagnose diabetes at the early stage itself.
There are mainly three types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. The signs and symptoms may vary with each type of diabetes. However, increased thirst (polydipsia), increased hunger (polyphagia) and frequent urination (polyuria) are the common symptoms experienced by type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes may occur rapidly or may take days or weeks. The common symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes include:
- Frequent urination – Diabetes causes glucose level in the blood to rise, which causes the kidneys to work extremely hard to filter the extra glucose. At some point, the kidneys become overwhelmed and try to remove the glucose by drawing out more liquid from the body, causing increased urination.
- Increased thirst – Frequent urination can lead to dehydration. This situation triggers signals to the region of the hypothalamus that controls thirst, resulting in excessive thirst.
- Increased hunger – Although there is high level of glucose in the blood, it does not reach the cells for being used to produce energy. As a result, the cells do not get the nutrients and the body remains unfed. The brain responds to this situation by making the patient feel hungry.
- Rapid weight loss – In a diabetic patient, the cells is deprived of glucose and cannot produce energy. In order to meet the energy demands, the body responds by burning the fat reserves in the body and produces the required energy. When this process is continued for a long time, the person experiences rapid weight loss. Burning of fat can release toxic substances called ketones that can poison the body and cause diabetic ketoacidosis. Excess quantities of ketones in the body can lead to diabetic coma.
- Fatigue – Fatigue sets in because the cells cannot produce energy to keep the body energetic.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
Type 2 diabetes usually does not present any symptoms. But when they do, it is usually the following symptoms:
- Type 1 diabetes symptoms such as increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination and rapid weight loss.
- Blurred vision – When the blood sugar rises to very high values, fluid is drawn from the lens of the eye, causing it to swell and change shape. This change in shape of the lens alters its focal length, making the patient’s vision blurry. Once the blood sugar level is brought down, the swelling starts to shrink.
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands and feet – Diabetes can lead to nerve damage, especially in the extremities. The onset of this condition is often characterized by the feeling of tingling or numbness.
- Irritability – The insufficient supply of glucose to cells and the lack of energy can make the patient very tired and irritated.
- Wound that is slow healing – Diabetes can cause the f the blood vessels to thicken, leading to poor circulation of blood. The process of healing wounds, cuts or sores is rather slow in diabetic patients due to the poor circulation. Diabetes also messes up the functioning of the immune system.
- Frequent yeast infections – High levels of glucose can form a highly good culture medium for bacteria and fungi. Since the immune system is also not working effectively as it should be, there is nothing to prevent these micro organisms from growing and multiplying.
- Fruity scented breath – When the fat reserves are broken down to produce energy, it releases ketones and acetones as the byproducts. These substances are responsible for imparting a fruity odor to the breath of diabetic patients.
- Dry mouth – High blood sugar levels can cause dehydration and lack of moisture in the mouth, leading to dry mouth.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, make sure to consult your doctor and get your blood sugar level checked.
Living with diabetes can be a tough challenge. However, by detecting the condition at an early stage and getting it treated, it is possible for you to lead a normal and healthy life. Most importantly, early detection and treatment of diabetes will help to prevent the occurrence of many serious complications as well. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms of diabetes can help people to take precautionary measures to control the blood sugar level as effectively as possible.