Dr Zuze Health matters
DIABETES mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar.
Glucose is vital to your health because it is an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It is also your brain’s main source of fuel.
If you have diabetes, no matter what type, it means you have too much sugar in your blood, although the reasons may differ. Too much sugar can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes — when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes — and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, but may resolve after the baby is delivered.
Early symptoms of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, can be subtle or seemingly harmless.
You might not even have symptoms at all. Over time, however, you may develop diabetes complications, even if you haven’t had diabetes symptoms. Understanding possible diabetes symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment — and a lifetime of better health.
If you are experiencing any of the following diabetes signs and symptoms, see your doctor.
Excessive thirst and increased urination Excessive thirst and increased urination are classic diabetes symptoms.
When you have diabetes, excess sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood.
Your kidneys are forced to work overtime to filter and absorb the excess sugar. If your kidneys cannot keep up, the excess sugar is excreted into your urine along with fluids drawn from your tissues.
This triggers more frequent urination, which may leave you dehydrated. As you drink more fluids to quench your thirst, you’ll urinate even more
You may feel persistently tired. Many factors can contribute to this. They include dehydration from increased urination and your body’s inability to function properly, since it is less able to use sugar for energy needs.
Weight fluctuations also fall under the umbrella of possible diabetes signs and symptoms.
When you lose sugar through frequent urination, you also lose calories. At the same time, diabetes may keep the sugar from your food from reaching your cells — leading to constant hunger. The combined effect is potentially rapid weight loss, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes symptoms sometimes involve your vision. High levels of blood sugar pull fluid from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes. This affects your ability to focus.
Left untreated, diabetes can cause new blood vessels to form in your retina — the back part of your eye — and damage established vessels. For most people, these early changes do not cause vision problems. However, if these changes progress undetected, they can lead to vision loss and blindness.
Slow-healing sores or frequent infections Doctors and people with diabetes have observed that infections seem more common if you have diabetes. It may be that high levels of blood sugar impair your body’s natural healing process and your ability to fight infections. For women, bladder and vaginal infections are especially common.
Tingling hands and feet
Excess sugar in your blood can lead to nerve damage. You may notice tingling and loss of sensation in your hands and feet, as well as burning pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet.
Red, swollen, tender gums
Diabetes may weaken your ability to fight germs, which increases the risk of infection in your gums and in the bones that hold your teeth in place. Your gums may pull away from your teeth, your teeth may become loose, or you may develop sores or pockets of pus in your gums — especially if you have a gum infection before diabetes develops.
The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. Diabetes is a serious condition.
But with your active participation and the support of your health care team, you can manage diabetes while enjoying an active, healthy life. So when you get a chance, go and get your blood sugar checked.