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Diabetes 101: Signs and Symptoms

Knowing the basics about diabetes helps identify what puts people at risk. Some people are living with diabetes and don't even know it. Recognize the signs to make lifestyle changes and get treatment before diabetes gets worse.

  • While 50 percent of people experience typical diabetes symptoms, others feel nothing. Often they find out at a medical office during a routine exam from their physician, dentist or eye doctor. Early detection is critical. Some symptoms to look for are included below.
  • Blurred vision is a symptom of diabetes. Raised blood sugar levels take fluids from body tissues, including the lenses of the eyes which may have difficulty focusing. As blood sugar is controlled, the vision will improve. Do not change your eye glass prescription until blood sugars are controlled for at least 8 weeks.
  • Intense hunger is another symptom. Fluctuating blood sugar, unstable insulin levels and abnormal hormones can cause this excessive feeling of hunger. The cells are not getting fed. Often people crave foods they should limit such as carbohydrates; using sugar free cookies and candy could be useful to offset this problem.
  • Extreme fatigue and weakness are signs of diabetes. They are caused by dehydration and the body's inability to use sugar for energy needs and function properly.
  • Chronic infections are also a symptom of diabetes. High levels of blood sugar may impact the body's natural ability to fight infections and heal. White blood cells are not working as hard to fight infection.
  • Frequent infections and slow healing sores are more common. They often strike the skin, gums and bladder. Women may experience urinary tract infections (UTIs) and vaginal infections. Diabetes impacts small blood vessels and nerves, leading to a decrease in blood supply and impairing the ability to heal.
  • Excessive thirst might be a sign of diabetes. Fluids are drawn from tissues, making a person feel dehydrated. Drinking more fluids causes frequent urination which adds to the feeling of thirst.
  • Weight loss is often a symptom of Type 1 diabetes. The loss of sugar through frequent urination causes a loss of calories. Diabetes can also keep sugar from reaching the cells, causing ongoing hunger. In combination, the result is rapid weight loss.
  • People with diabetes might experience sexual problems including erectile dysfunction and lowered sexual desire and function. Often this is a result of nerve problems or hormonal fluctuations from irregular blood sugars. For men, this problem can be addressed with an erection pump.
  • Healthy lifestyle habits help prevent diabetes or minimize its symptoms. Eat a well-balanced diet and watch the amount of carbohydrates. Try to maintain a healthy weight. Engage in regular physical activity. Quit smoking and reduce stress.

Pay attention to body hints to recognize the symptoms of diabetes. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit a doctor to get a diagnosis.