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5 Key Symptoms of Diabetes You Should Never Ignore: Take Action Now!

Dr. Pankaj Mandale 564 Views
Updated: 18 Mar 2024
Published: 08 Mar 2024
5 Key Symptoms of Diabetes You Should Never Ignore

Diabetes is a medical condition characterised by the body's inability to either produce insulin (type 1) or use insulin effectively (type 2). Both types result in an excess of glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream. Elevated blood sugar levels can manifest in subtle, gradual symptoms that may go unnoticed. The critical issue lies in disregarding or attributing these symptoms to other causes, which can potentially lead to severe health complications in the future. Without proper intervention, diabetes can contribute to various health problems, including heart diseases, nerve and kidney damage, stroke and vision loss. Recognising the symptoms of diabetes is crucial for early diagnosis and management. Therefore, it is essential to stay informed about these symptoms and take prompt action when they arise. Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of this condition and its key symptoms to look out for.

5 Major Symptoms of Diabetes to Watch Out for

Here is a list of the top 5 symptoms of diabetes you should keep an eye out for:

Excessive Thirst

Individuals with diabetes may encounter polydipsia, a heightened sense of thirst. This phenomenon is frequently observed in unmanaged type 1 diabetes and may also manifest in type 2 diabetes when blood sugar levels are significantly elevated. Elevated blood glucose can lead to dehydration and increased thirst, impeding the body's capacity to absorb water. This can result in an overwhelming desire for water, persistent dryness of the mouth and sensations of dizziness. Excessive thirst tends to be more pronounced when a person's blood glucose levels exceed 250 mg/dL, which significantly surpasses the normal sugar levels.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination, known as polyuria, is a prevalent indication of unregulated type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Ordinarily, individuals expel about 1-3 quarts of urine daily. However, in instances of untreated diabetes, an individual may excrete as much as 20 quarts of urine per day. This occurrence is a result of hyperglycemia, wherein the body attempts to eliminate excess glucose from the bloodstream. Elevated sugar levels prompt increased fluid intake, leading to a higher volume of urine production.

Increased Appetite Without Weight Gain

Individuals with diabetes may experience elevated blood glucose levels, yet their cells are unable to utilise this glucose for energy. This occurs due to the body's insufficient production of insulin or its impaired ability to use insulin effectively. Notably, insulin is vital for the proper processing of glucose. Consequently, even with high blood sugar levels, the body may lack the energy it needs. This condition can lead to polyphagia, a state in which the body signals hunger, attempting to acquire the necessary fuel. Despite eating, the feeling of hunger may persist as the body continues to seek sufficient energy. In cases where diabetes management is challenging, individuals may not gain weight even if they consume excess calories. If someone exhibits a significant appetite without accompanying weight gain, it indicates that their body is not extracting all the essential energy it requires from food.

Frequent Infections or Slow Healing

Elevated blood sugar levels can heighten an individual's vulnerability to infections. It is crucial to consult a doctor if there is a noticeable increase in the frequency of infections or if the recovery from wounds or infections takes longer than usual. Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing various conditions, including:

  • Urinary tract infections like cystitis
  • Respiratory tract infections like the flu
  • Skin infections like ulcers or cellulitis, especially affecting the feet
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Yeast infections like thrush

Yeast thrives on sugar, and the combination of compromised immunity and elevated blood glucose levels puts individuals with diabetes at an increased risk of recurrent yeast infections. Infections associated with diabetes not only take longer to heal but can also escalate more rapidly than in individuals without diabetes. Without timely intervention, life-threatening complications such as sepsis can arise. For instance, diabetic foot ulcers may lead to tissue necrosis, potentially necessitating amputation. Regular monitoring for changes in the skin and seeking medical assistance promptly upon detecting signs of infection are essential for individuals with diabetes.

Tingling and Numbness

Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage throughout the body, particularly affecting those nerves responsible for sensation in the hands or feet. Individuals experiencing numbness or tingling may be indicative of nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. Some people with diabetes may also encounter nerve pain, characterised by sensations such as electrical tingling or burning. While nerve pain can occur anywhere in the body, it is notably common in the feet and hands. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should promptly consult a doctor. Additionally, if there is swelling, redness or warmth in the legs, it may signify a medical emergency requiring immediate attention at an emergency room.

Causes of Diabetes

The causes of diabetes vary between the two main types:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: The precise cause of type 1 diabetes is not fully understood. Medical professionals believe that, for reasons yet unknown, the immune system erroneously targets and destroys insulin-producing beta cells located in the pancreas. While genetic factors may contribute in some cases, it is also plausible that an immune system response triggered by a viral infection may play a role in the onset of type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes arises from a combination of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors. Notably, factors such as carrying excess weight, especially around the abdominal area, contribute to increased resistance of cells to the effects of insulin on blood sugar. Overweight or obesity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Additionally, there is a hereditary component, with family members sharing genes that predispose them to both type 2 diabetes and being overweight. Lifestyle choices, including diet and physical activity, also play a pivotal role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

In a Nutshell

If any of the aforementioned symptoms are observed, then seeking prompt medical attention is crucial, irrespective of whether an individual has received a diabetes diagnosis. It is possible to have diabetes without being aware of it. Initiating the management of high blood sugar at an early stage significantly improves the likelihood of slowing its progression and minimises the risk of complications. While there is no cure for diabetes, there are many treatment options and lifestyle habits one can adopt to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is diabetes?

    Answer:- Diabetes is a medical condition characterised by elevated levels of blood sugar (glucose). This occurs when the pancreas either produces insufficient insulin or fails to produce any insulin at all. Alternatively, diabetes may result from the body's inadequate response to the effects of insulin.

  2. What can be the complications of diabetes?

    Answer:- If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications like coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, nerve damage, vision loss, kidney damage, amputation, etc.

  3. How is diabetes diagnosed?

    Answer:- Diabetes diagnosis by healthcare providers involves assessing blood glucose levels through various tests. Three common tests are utilised for this purpose: fasting blood glucose test, random blood glucose test and glycated haemoglobin test.

  4. Can diabetes be cured?

    Answer:- No, once it develops, diabetes cannot be ever cured. However, treatment can help in managing the symptoms and delaying or preventing their progression. 

  5. How is diabetes managed?

    Answer:- Managing diabetes requires consistent care. The major aspects of managing diabetes include blood sugar monitoring, medications, insulin, diet and exercise.

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