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9 early warning signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes

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early warning signs and symptoms

According to WHO, the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in the year 1980 to 422 million in 2014. More so, diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in both middle and low income countries, and is a major cause of heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney failure. But despite these facts, diabetes and its symptoms are very easily overlooked. Because not many people know what does diabetes actually do to the body, and what are the symptoms of sugar disease to look out for, hence diagnosis becomes even more delayed or in numerous cases, even undiagnosed. Large number of people may have pre diabetes, which means that their blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. But because pre diabetes symptoms are also overlooked, this does then progress to diabetes.

Before we divulge further into the symptoms of diabetes, it is essential to understand the disease, its various types, the symptoms and the causes. 

A chronic disease that happens when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, diabetes is also when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. A very common result of unchecked diabetes is hyperglycaemia, or raised levels of blood sugar, which leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems over time. There are 4 types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes: Also known as “insulin-dependent” and “childhood onset” diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is defined by the deficiency in insulin production, and requires the daily administration of insulin. But the cause of this still remains unknown and is not preventable as well. 
  2. Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes, also formerly known as “adult onset” diabetes, is characterised by the body’s ineffective use of insulin that it produces. This type of diabetes is mostly caused by excess body weight and physical inactivity. The Type 2 diabetes symptoms are similar to Type 1, but are often less marked. Hence, the disease may get diagnosed several years after onset.
  3. Gestational Diabetes: This is hyperglycaemia with the blood glucose levels above normal, but below those which are diagnostic of diabetes, and occurs during pregnancy. Women who have gestational diabetes face an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery as well. It also leaves them and their children at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. This type of diabetes is diagnosed through prenatal screening.
  4. IGT and IFG: IGT stands for impaired glucose tolerance and IFG stands for impaired fasting glycaemia. These are the intermediate conditions in the transitions between regularity and diabetes. People with either of these remain at a high risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes.

type 2 diabetes symptoms and causes

Now drawing attention towards Type 2 diabetes symptoms and the diabetes causes, as this comprises the majority of people with diabetes across the world. First, we discover the top 9 symptoms and the early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes:

  1. Always Feeling Hungry: Because with diabetes, the ability of the body to derive glucose produced by the breakdown of food by the digestive system is compromised, not enough of this glucose gets absorbed into the body’s cells from the bloodstream. As a result of this, people who have Type 2 diabetes, often feel constantly hungry, notwithstanding how recently they have eaten.
  2. Feeling Tired: As Type 2 diabetes impacts the person’s energy levels, it causes them to constantly feel very tired or fatigued. This fatigue also happens as the result of insufficient sugar being absorbed by the cells of the body. 
  3. Frequent Urination: When the blood sugar levels of the body are high, the kidneys try to filter the excess sugar out of the blood and remove it. This results in the person requiring to urinate more frequently, particularly at night.
  4. Increased Thirst: Due to the frequent urination that is required to remove the excess sugar from the blood, this results in the body losing additional water. Over a period of time, this causes dehydration, and in turn the person feels more thirsty than usual.
  5. Yeast Infections and Itching: The excess sugar in the blood and urine becomes food for yeast, which then leads to infections. Since yeast infections tend to occur on the moist and warm areas of the skin, they usually occur in areas like the mouth, the armpits and the groin area. The areas affected by the infections are usually itchy, and the person might also experience redness, burning and soreness as well.
  6. Tingling, Pain or Numbness in the Feet or Hands: High blood sugar levels in the blood can affect the circulation, and also damage the nerves of the body. In people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, this can also lead to a tingling sensation, numbness or pain in the hands and feet. This condition is called neuropathy and can deteriorate over time, leading to serious complications, if the person does not begin treatment for their diabetes.
  7. Blurry Vision: The excess blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eye and lead to blurry vision. This can occur in either one of both of the eyes, and may come and go as well. If the person does not get treatment for diabetes, this damage to the blood vessels in the eye can get severe and even lead to permanent loss of vision.
  8. Patches of Dark Skin: The formation of patches of dark skin on the creases of the neck, the armpits, or the groin also be symptomatic of diabetes. The patches have a very soft and velvety feel; and this skin condition is known as acanthuses nigricans.
  9. Slow Healing of Wounds and Cuts: The increased levels of sugar in the blood can lead to damage to the nerves and blood vessels, which impairs the blood circulation of the body. Due to this, even small cuts and wounds may take weeks or months to heal. The slow wound healing also poses the risk of infections.

These nine warning signs are common to both men and women, but there are diabetes symptoms in men which are particular to them, such as low testosterone levels, ED, and others.

To summarise, paying close attention to your body, focusing on your health and fitness, properly monitoring your blood sugar levels and developing a healthy diet can help manage diabetes. If managed properly, most people with diabetes do lead a healthful life. 

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Counsellor Mary Fathima’s explanation is excellent and the information shared is very useful, as most people do not know the test procedure (i.e. test timings and the difference) of the FBS, PPBS and RBS tests even though they are literate. I was also doing my FBS test at incorrect timings and didn’t know the difference between PPBS and RBS.” The inputs shared were very useful in helping me manage by diabetes better.

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