Diabetes (type 2 and type 1) has several serious short-term and long-term complications so it’s important to be aware of the commons signs that may indicate the need for further diagnosis. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, you should contact your health care provider right away so that further testing and diagnosis can be conducted.
Hyperglycemia is the scientific term for having high blood glucose levels. Depending on the type of diabetes you have, hyperglycemia is caused by either a lack of insulin or an inability to use insulin effectively. In either case, the lack of insulin prevents the body from using the glucose in your blood and thus the glucose levels in your blood rises to dangerous levels. The classic symptoms of hyperglycemia are:
- Excessive thirst (Polydipsia): The body tries to compensate for the excess sugar in the blood stream via a homeostatic mechanism in which the body tries to dilute the excess sugar in the blood by adding water. A signal is sent to the brain to encourage consumption of water. This signal is the sensation of excessive thirst.
- Excessive eating or hunger (Polyphagia): The body tries to secrete more and more insulin to combat excessive sugar levels. Insulin can stimulate hunger.
- Excessive urination (Polyuria): The body tries to rid the excess sugar in the body through urination. The excessive urination often leads to severe dehydration.
- Unexpected weight loss: Weight loss is often seen due to inadequate processing of meals. This occurs even though you are feeling hunger and eating normally. The loss of sugar, water and electrolytes in the urine also contribute to unexplained weight loss.
- Fatigue: The inefficient use of glucose for fuel often triggers feelings of fatigue. Without sufficient energy from proper glucose metabolism, the body starts to use other sources such as fat. This requires a further expenditure of energy to allow the body to fully function.
- Mental abnormalities: Mental status abnormalities include irritability, agitation, lethargy and confusion. These changes need immediate medical attention.
- Infections: A combination of immune system suppression and the love of certain bacteria for glucose can trigger increased infection. Common places of infections include the skin, the urinary tract and the genitals. Also associated with immune suppression is poor wound healing.
- Other symptoms: Other common symptoms of diabetes include blurred vision, headaches, loss of consciousness (this is very infrequent), numbness and/or tingling of the extremities, and impotency.
Additionally, type 2 diabetics often do not exhibit symptoms (or only a slow gradual development of symptoms) and up to a third of the population does not know they have diabetes so not having any of the symptoms below does not necessarily give you a clean bill of health.