Earliest Warning Signs of Diabetes

21 Jul 2011, 19:16
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Diabetes is a serious condition that can cause many serious complications if it is not spotted early on. Once a patient is aware of their condition, it is only then that they can start to modify their behaviour – their diet and their lifestyle – to be more appropriate and help their diabetes.


Diabetes essentially means that there is too much glucose in the blood stream. However depending on the form of diabetes this will be due to different processes resulting in some different treatments and symptoms. There are two different forms of diabetes as most people are aware.


These are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes the extra glucose is caused by the body’s inability to make insulin (due to the immune system attacking and destroying it) and in type 2 it is due to the body no longer responding to insulin.


Type two is the more common of the two and both these forms share some symptoms meaning that regardless of the form of diabetes you have there are several symptoms that might point to the condition, but that the type will not always be apparent from the symptoms alone without further tests.


A common sign of diabetes is frequent urination. This is the result of the kidneys becoming loaded with glucose due to the malfunction of glucose producing cells. This extra glucose then needs to be flushed out the body and this then leads to the more frequent use of the toilet.


It is worth noting however that there are also other possible causes of frequent urinating – often it can simply be a psychological condition where the individual convinces themselves they need the toilet again (also a problem if it escalates).


Another symptom of diabetes is unquenchable thirst. Someone with diabetes might find that they get through multiple glasses of water in an hour, or that they wake during the night due to thirst. This is mostly a bi-product of the previously described as the patient flushes out large amounts of liquid with the glucose.


At the same time the extra drinking will then make the individual need the toilet more making it something of a vicious cycle. Again this can be a psychological or at least psychosomatic (at least partly ‘in the mind’) effect, but can also be a result of the individual exercising a lot which will cause the body to require more water (and then likely to lead to more need for the toilet as a result).


These two symptoms alone will not necessarily point to diabetes then, but if you find that after drinking water when thirsty your thirst is not at all quenched even temporarily then this could be. Either way you should get yourself checked out at a doctors.


Diabetes can also cause weight loss or weight gain depending on the type and the stage of the diabetes (weight gain is sometimes the cause of the diabetes and can also be a result of diabetes medication). In type one diabetes, weight loss can be an early sign of the condition.


This is because the pancreas stops producing insulin due to damage to those cells. This then starves the body of energy thereby meaning that it needs to find it elsewhere so that it begins to ‘burn’ sources of energy stored in the fat and other tissue, much as it would if you were to run a marathon.


Another symptom that will prevent you from running any marathons is fatigue. This is again caused by problems involving the glucose in the patient’s body.


Here the cells are unable to extract glucose from the blood in order to produce energy, and as described above in type one diabetes there will be a depletion of insulin. Both of these then lead to the body being unable to get the energy it needs which will make you feel exhausted and logically energy-less.


Numbness and tingling are also well known symptoms. 

This comes over time tending not to be one of the earliest symptoms, but is a serious symptom when it does occur that should be taken very seriously when it does occur. This is caused by an increase in the level of blood glucose beginning to damage the nervous system.


This can result in many complications and permanent damage to the nerves which is one of the reasons it is so important to spot diabetes early.


This numbness is one of the most well-recognised symptoms of diabetes and is technically known as ‘peripheral neuropathy’ (neuropathy being nerve damage). However nerve damage caused by diabetes can also occur in many other areas of the body and there are various forms all with their own symptoms.


As well as peripheral neuropathy, another is ‘autonomic neuropathy’ which causes damage to the digestive system, bowel movements and bladder functions and can also interrupt perspiration and sexual function.


It is autonomic neuropathy which also causes damage to the circulatory system leading to heart problems, high cholesterol and blood pressure (which can result in strokes, heart attack, heart disease and blood clots if not managed carefully).


It is also peripheral neuropathy that causes damage to the eyes and can cause the early warning sign of blurred vision. Another unusual side effect of this is ‘hypoglycaemic unawareness’ which prevents the body from recognising when it is low on blood sugar. This can be dangerous if it causes sufferers to unwittingly cause an overdose.


Another form of neuropathy can be proximal neuropathy which occurs in the lower body as bone or muscle ache. This will be experienced in the hips, thighs, buttocks and legs. It can also cause weakness in the legs making it difficult to walk long distances or stand for extended periods of times.


Finally ‘focal’ neuropathy is a form of nerve damage that can strike any specific point causing a nerve or cluster of nerves to cause pain, weakness, tingling or other malfunction at any spot in the body.


Slow healing of wounds is also an early warning sign of diabetes especially on the feet. This is due to the circulation being affected which can also cause coldness in the extremities, soreness and lesions. It can also cause itchy or dry skin.


Both neuropathies and circulation problems are symptoms that present themselves later into the condition’s life but are certain indicators that something is wrong when they do occur. Try to spot the other early warning signs of diabetes before the condition is allowed to progress this far.

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