Here is one
scary state: more than three and a half million South Africans to suffer from
diabetes. But it gets worse: it is estimated that five million people in the south
Africans have pre-diabetes (almost always diabetes, when blood sugar
levels are high, but not high enough for complete diabetes) – and 90% of
these people do not know either.
Remind me of what diabetes is again
Diabetes is not just a disease. In fact, there are three
types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Most people with
diabetes has type 2 – it happens when your body does not use insulin well and it is
unable to keep their blood sugar level stable, Centers for Disease Control and
Type 1 diabetes is much less common – only about 5% of
with diabetes have type 1 – and it is essentially an autoimmune disease where your
the body stops making insulin (and as such can not regulate blood sugar).
And gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women – usually goes
although after giving birth, but may increase the likelihood of developing
type 2 diabetes later, according to the US National Diabetes Institute
and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
All three types of diabetes can be easily detected through blood
test. The test essentially checks if your blood glucose (for example, blood
sugar) is very high. But be warned: you can not diagnose yourself – not even with a
OTC blood glucose meter, according to NIDDK.
Unfortunately, many people are walking around with undiagnosed
diabetes or pre-diabetes because the symptoms are super-subtle, says Dr. Poorani
Goundan, an endocrinologist at Boston Medical Center.
These sneaky symptoms of diabetes may indicate that it is time to
go to your doctor's office for a test.
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1. You have to pee all the time
When you have too much sugar running through your bloodstream,
body instinctively tries to get rid of it, says endocrinologist Dr. Mary
Vouyiouklis Kellis. "The water follows the sugar, so you end up having high volume
loss of urine, "she explains.
If you realize that all of a sudden you pee and, more often,
real reason – especially if you're waking up a couple of times at night to
Go – it's time to talk to your doctor, she says.
2. You never stop drinking water
With all this, dehydration is very real
possibility. And, to make matters worse, "some patients who do not know
have quench your thirst with sugary drinks like soda or juice, which
adds to your blood sugar, "says Goundan. Signs of dehydration include
dark urine, weight loss (water) and extreme thirst.
Sound familiar? Talk to your doctor about this possible symptom of
diabetes, especially if it occurs in conjunction with many breaks for the bathroom.
3. Your breath smells horribly
Diabetes-related dehydration contributes to dry mouth and
breath that may accompany it. (After all, with a dry mouth, there is not enough
spit to wash the bacteria and balance the pH in your mouth, says Kellis.)
In addition, undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes can trigger
ketosis, a process in which the body uses fat, instead of glucose, as energy.
Ketosis releases a chemical by-product called ketones, which can
smell of unpleasantly sweet or fruity breath, she says – sometimes it can even smell
like acetone, since it is a type of ketone.
Unless you are on a ketone diet (which is designed to
you in ketosis), it is worth talking to your doctor.
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4. Your vision is getting blurry
Blurred vision is a common – and often overlooked – symptom of diabetes
women. What does diabetes have to do with your vision? Kellis explains that
A fluid may form in the lens of the eye when sugar levels rise (remember: fluid
follows the sugar).
An accumulation of fluid in the eye blurs the vision,
myopia, and sends many people to the optometrist for new glasses or
Fortunately, controlling your blood sugar levels can
clear blurred vision, she adds.
5. Your hands and feet fall asleep a lot
Neuropathy – a condition characterized by numbness or strange
sensations such as pins and needles in the arms, legs, hands and feet – occurs
more than half of people with type 2 diabetes, according to one Diabetes Care Review.
Why so common? Diabetes reduces blood flow to the extremities
and, over time, damages your blood vessels and nerves, says Kellis.
6. His cuts and bruises take forever to heal
Reduced sensation at your extremities makes you more prone to
injuries. "You're less likely to notice a cut because you can not feel it,
means that you are less likely to take care of it and are more likely to
infected, "says Goundan.
So, when you have an injury, uncontrolled diabetes can
It is harder for your body to heal. "High blood sugars provide a good environment
for bacteria to grow, "she says. This is because diabetes is also frequently
accompanied by high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and the
plaque buildup can narrow the blood vessels, reducing blood supply and leading to
Diabetes can also weaken the T cells that make up your immune system.
system – your body's defense against infections. "When you have high blood sugar,
it's like delaying the army of your body to go to the wound to heal it, "says
7. You're losing weight … but you're not trying.
Unexplained weight loss can happen for many reasons, and
diabetes is one of them. Goundan explains that insulin helps the body to move
sugar from your blood into the cells, so when you have an insulin resistance,
you do not get enough energy in your cells, despite all the sugar flowing
through your body. "Since you can not get enough energy from sugar, your
body burns its own fat and muscle for energy, "says Kellis. "Weight loss can
be quite significant, sometimes 4.5 to 9 pounds. "
Doctors generally recommend visiting the doc if you
involuntarily lose between five and 10 percent of your body weight over the
for six months.
See More Information: Everything you really need to know about diabetes
8. You get enough sleep, but it's still like this
Carbohydrates, which your body breaks down into glucose, are your
main source of energy in the body. But your body can not effectively use this source
of energy when you have diabetes, explains Goundan. (And related to diabetes
dehydration can also cause fatigue.)
Of course there are several other reasons why you may be feeling
exhausted, including your diet, stress levels and how much you have
Still, if you can not think of any other good reason for your
extreme fatigue, and their low energy levels are accompanied by some of these
other symptoms of diabetes, it is worth checking out.
9. You get a surprising number of yeast
High blood sugars create an environment in your vagina that is ripe
infections. "Glucose is a fuel for yeast. The more there is, the more
the more they can multiply, "says Kellis.
If you are having two to three fungal infections every few months or
If standard treatments are not working, it's time to see a doctor.
"Once blood sugar is controlled, the frequency decreases," says Goundan.
10. You have strange dark spots on your skin
Skin darkened around the nape of the neck, under
armpits, or even in your groin area is an amazing and common early sign of
insulin resistance, the precursor of diabetes – the medical name for
condition is acanthosis nigricans (AN).
"We often see this in women with polycystic ovary syndrome
(PCOS), "says Kellis, who notes that women with PCOS run a greater risk
of insulin problems. If you notice new dark spots on your skin, they are worth
check with your doctor.
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11. Do you really feel itchy all the time?
Those with diabetes often experience itching due to yeast
infections (which can occur on the skin as well), dry skin or poor circulation,
according to the American Diabetes Association.
If poor circulation is to blame, your legs will be the area more itchy.
According to the ADA, you can try to treat itching by limiting yourself
how much you bathe (especially in less humid climates), using soap with
moisturizer, and remembering to apply lotion immediately after washing
This article was originally
published in womenshealthmag.com
Image Credit: iStock