Diabetes on its own is a serious condition in which your body is not using insulin as it should. After eating, our body should break down carbohydrates from foods like bread, pasta, fruits and vegetables into sugar molecules like glucose, which enters your cells with the help of insulin produced by the pancreas. When a person has diabetes, however, the cells either begin to resist the insulin or the pancreas simply isn’t making enough insulin, causing sugar to build up in the blood.
When not treated or managed properly, diabetes can cause various health complications like vision loss, nerve damage, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease and increased infections. This is why knowing the signs of diabetes is so important, especially for adults over the age of 45 who are more at risk. Even though today we know more about prevention, diagnosis and diabetes management than we did even just 25 years ago, type 2 diabetes is affecting more and more people, even those at younger ages.
Common Symptoms and Signs of Diabetes
Many people may have diabetes and not even know it. Serious complications brought about by type 2 diabetes can occur before you even begin displaying any of the symptoms. This is why it’s so important to be aware of the signs of diabetes and get tested right away if you think you might be at risk.
Some of the most common symptoms and signs of diabetes include:
- Constantly feeling thirsty and frequent urination. This is due to the fact that the extra glucose in your bloodstream pulls water from the tissues, which makes you feel thirsty all the time. Along with constant thirst, you might be hungry all the time, too.
- Weight loss or gain. You can lose weight quickly when you have type 2 diabetes because your muscles aren’t getting enough glucose. Conversely, you can gain weight because you’re eating more due to the fact that your body is trying to make up for lost fuel and fluid.
- Frequent infections. Urinary tract infections (UTI) is especially common in older people with diabetes.
- Tingling or numb extremities. If you’re experiencing numbness or a “pins and needles” feeling in your arms, hands, legs or feet, this could be due to nerve damage caused by decreased circulation.
- Vision loss or blurry eyesight. Diabetes can compromise your ability to focus, as excess sugar levels can pull fluid from the lenses of your eyes.
- Feeling tired or lethargic all the time. Because your body isn’t properly processing sugar, you might be weak, lethargic and tired, or have very low energy levels overall.
All the above signs of diabetes can develop gradually. Most people actually discover that they have diabetes when they’re visiting the doctor for something else entirely. If you’re age 45 or older, the American Diabetes Association recommends getting screened for diabetes every three years. If you’re experiencing some of the signs of diabetes at an earlier age, it’s important to get tested right away. You can avoid more serious health complications often by adjusting your lifestyle; eating healthier, losing weight and eliminating stress can decrease your risk for diabetes and allow you to better manage your overall health.
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