Type-2 Diabetes, aka Diabetes mellitus (hereafter referred to as “Diabetes”) can be a difficult condition to detect. Medical practitioners consider it to be a “silent killer” because many of its symptoms do not hint at a wider problem when taken on their own. While there are various indicators that can possibly lead to a diagnosis, these are merely guidelines rather than hard and fast rules, and should be treated accordingly. Early diabetes is asymptomatic, and a blood test is recommended for adults over 40 years old.
Please be aware that while reading this list of diabetes symptoms, rather than looking at them separately, it is more helpful to try and view them as part of a bigger picture. For example, the primary factor—an elevated level of blood sugar—in diabetes results in glucose concentrations that affect your whole body negatively.
Increased urination: If you’ve felt the need to pass urine more often than usual despite not drinking a lot, this may be a subtle sign you have diabetes. The increased levels of sugar in the bloodstream result in the kidneys overworking themselves in an attempt to filter out the excess sugar, which is then dumped in the urine. While this happens, your kidneys will draw out your vital bodily fluids to help flush out the sugar which, in turn, leads to…
Uncontrollable thirst: Urinating too frequently dehydrates your body quicker resulting in uncontrollable thirst, even if there’s no real need to drink. As your kidneys are working overtime to get your sugar levels back to normal, this artificial sense of thirst will naturally lead you to fill your bladder, thus working its way back into your need to urinate constantly.
Nail-polisher or “fruity”-smelling breath: Due to abnormal or irregular levels of insulin, your body is unable to convert sugar into energy, resulting in it using fat instead of sugar. Insulin is a hormone that normally works within your body to regulate and prevent the usage of fat as an energy source, instead relying on stored sugar, or even converting sugar from the food you eat.
If your body is incapable of using insulin or if your body does not produce adequate amounts of it, what happens is that your body uses fat instead of sugar for energy. The usage of fat propels your body into a state known as ketosis—the same state that Atkins and low-carb dieters experience when they eat less than 20g of carbohydrates a day for more than 48 hours—resulting in your body producing more acetones than usual. This excess of acetones is usually detectable in your breath, which smells like nail polish, paint thinner, or a “fruity” odour.
Exhaustion: Chronic exhaustion is one of the more common effects of the body using fat instead of sugar for energy. While it is normal to feel exhaustion towards the end of the day or after strenuous physical activity, prolonged exhaustion with no determinable cause is abnormal. As per the previous point, dehydration can also lead to exhaustion.
Weight loss: A side result of ketosis, and again, something that Atkins/low-carb dieters might also face, an incidence of sudden and rapid weight loss despite not trying to consciously lose weight is a warning sign of diabetes. This happens due to permanently being in the state of ketosis as a result of insulin-related problems, and is sometimes accompanied with uncontrollable hunger pangs or cravings for food.
A tingling sensation in hands or feet: Also known as diabetic neuropathy, this condition inflicts lasting damage to the nerves in the extremities as a result of excess glucose in the bloodstream. This usually progresses to the point where there is significant loss of sensation in the limbs, leading to…
Wounds taking longer to heal: The nerve damage causes a phenomenon where the phagocytes (white blood cells that consume bacteria) are inhibited by the high level of glucose in the bloodstream, resulting in one or more of the following happening:
Blurred vision: The blood vessels in the eye are very small and delicate, and react badly towards abnormally high amounts of glucose in the bloodstream. Glucose and fructose accumulation essentially damages the blood vessels leading towards the retina, starving the eye of oxygen, and resulting in permanent vision loss if this is not detected and treated.
As you can see, these 8 symptoms are could be easily ignored when looked at individually. However, when taken in to consideration together, they are indicative of a bigger problem—the body’s vital functions are slowly declining due to excess glucose and the lack of insulin. As all these symptoms are interconnected, it is imperative that one look out not for just a single symptom but if there are others present at the same time, which will help in the diagnosis of diabetes.