Diabetes Symptoms – What Should You Look Out For?
Diabetes UK states that there are already 3.9 million people who have been diagnosed with Diabetes in the UK. With numbers rising each year, do you know the diabetes symptoms that you should look out for?
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects your blood sugar, caused by the pancreas not producing insulin, not making enough insulin, or making insulin that doesn’t do its job properly. Insulin is a hormone that breaks down glucose (sugars) into energy, so when there is not enough insulin, or it’s not working properly, blood sugars will rise and become too high.
There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Both types are as serious as each other, as both can cause high blood sugar and lead to complications if not properly managed.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed before the age of 40, only making up 8% of the total diabetes diagnoses’ in the UK. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot make insulin; which is why the main treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes usually presents itself later in life, with an increase in risk as you age – making up 90% of diabetes diagnoses’ in the UK. It usually occurs when there is not enough insulin produced, or the insulin the pancreas makes is not working properly. Although some people with Type 2 diabetes need insulin, for many people it is possible to manage the condition with tablet medication, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
So what are the symptoms that you should be aware of?
The most common diabetes symptoms include:
- Feeling very tired
- Feeling very thirsty
- Losing weight without trying, or losing muscle bulk
- Needing to pass urine more frequently – especially at night
- Blurred vision
- Cuts or grazes that heal very slowly
- Thrush that keeps coming back
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes often develop quite quickly, over a few weeks, or even days. Whereas, symptoms of Type 2 diabetes tend to be a slower onset; there have been reports of people having been diabetic for up to 10 years without a diagnosis.
If the condition isn’t managed properly it can lead to complications. This is why it is important to see your GP, or get your family member to the GP, if either you or they, are exhibiting any of the above symptoms.
There can be a whole host of damage to different parts of the body, thanks to diabetes and high blood sugar levels. This damage is what is known as diabetes complications. Some of these include:
- Eye problems (retinopathy) – which can cause sight loss
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) – which can cause loss of sensation, tingling or numbness in the hands, feet or legs.
- Heart Attack
- Kidney problems (nephropathy)
- Gum disease and tooth decay
- Leg or foot ulcers
- Vascular damage – which can cause coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and other complications already mentioned above
- Sexual problems
- Increased risk of Vascular Dementia and Alzheimers
Some of these complications can be fatal, along with more immediate emergencies such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) – a build-up of ketones in the blood. Other complications can lead to significant life changes such as loss of sight, or amputation of limbs. This is why we always support our clients to manage their diabetes well.
Can diabetes go away?
There is no cure for either type of diabetes but there are lifestyle changes that can prevent Type 2 diabetes, or put the condition into remission. Being in remission means that your blood sugar levels have returned to normal and that you no longer need medication to manage your sugars. Remission is not a cure, however, you will likely find that if your diet and exercise habits change, or you gain weight, that your sugars may once again become too high.
Lifestyle changes that can help manage Type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of complications include:
- Eating a well balanced, healthy diet
- Quitting smoking
- Doing regular exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
It is also extremely important that as well as the lifestyle changes above, that you take medication as prescribed and attend regular blood tests and eye screenings.
What should I do if I think I have diabetes?
If you think that you or someone you care for may have diabetes, you need to book a GP appointment. If you can, write down the symptoms you have been having and how long they have been going on for, and take them with you. If the GP suspects that you may have diabetes, you will be asked to attend the surgery for a blood test and further investigations.
We hope this article has helped you to know the diabetes symptoms to look out for, and why it is so important to manage the condition effectively. If you would like any further information or support, please see the links provided below.
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