Diabetes, full name Diabetes mellitus, is a metabolic disease that results in prolonged high blood sugar. This may occur for a variety of reasons. In type 1 or “juvenile diabetes” the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes the body begins to develop insulin resistance. Finally, gestational diabetes may affect pregnant women, whose insulin receptors do not function as normal due to pregnancy-related hormones. While all types of diabetes are serious, were going to focus on type 2 diabetes since it represents about 90% of all diabetes cases.
The Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
It is first necessary for sufferers of type 2 diabetes to spot the warning signs. The following are some of the most common warning signs along with why they occur:
Frequent Urination – Frequent urination is the kidneys method of coping with the excess levels of glucose in the blood. In response to these high blood sugar levels the kidneys increase urine production, flushing the glucose out of the blood and into the urine where it can be expelled.
Extreme Thirst – Extreme thirst goes hand in hand with frequent urination as the body becomes dehydrated and seeks to replace the lost fluids by inducing symptoms of thirst like dry mouth.
Increased Hunger – Because the glucose in the body is not being properly metabolized by insulin this results in the energy not reaching the cells where it is needed. This in turn signals a hunger response.
Unexplained Weight Loss – Despite the increased appetite the diabetes sufferer may lose weight. This occurs because not only does blood sugar not get metabolized properly into energy, the body may also begin to pull energy from the protein in muscle cells to compensate. Meanwhile the increased urine production also consumes more energy.
Fatigue and Irritability – Waking up throughout the night to urinate and drink more water disrupts restful sleep and often leads to fatigue. This fatigue, combined with the other symptoms of diabetes such as hunger, can easily result in the sufferer becoming irritable.
Slow Healing and Frequent Infections – Slow healing of cuts and bruises and frequent infections of injuries is another hallmark of type 2 diabetes. This occurs because the body’s vascular system is being damaged by the perpetually high blood sugar levels.
Skin Problems – Dry, itchy skin may occur as a result of the vascular problems and poor circulation the body is experiencing. The skin around the neck and armpits may also darken.
Tingling or Numbness – Prolonged vascular damage may eventually result in diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. This may cause tingling or numbness in the extremities, commonly the feet. Swelling and bruising may also occur.
Blurred Vision – The lens of the eye consists of a flexible membrane that is suspended by muscles. A sudden spike in blood sugar levels interferes with the muscles’ ability to focus the eye, resulting in blurred vision. However this symptom is typically only an early warning sign and not present in later stages. That is because the eye and eye muscles usually adapt to and compensate for the chronically high blood sugar, resulting in vision returning to normal.
Yeast Infections – Women suffering from type 2 diabetes are often more susceptible to yeast infections because the bacteria and fungi that cause these infections thrive in high-sugar environments.
Don’t Wait; Get Medical Help
Diabetes, especially unmanaged diabetes, can result in extremely serious health consequences that must be addressed immediately. For example the tingling and numbness that signify diabetic neuropathy can easily progress in severity and result in permanent nerve damage and loss of sensation in the affected body parts. Infections that are not properly and promptly addressed may get out of control and could even necessitate amputation of the affected area. Finally, diabetic coma may occur if blood sugar levels get too high and the sufferer becomes severely dehydrated. If you or someone you love is experiencing these symptoms don’t wait, get immediate medical help.