Diabetes touches millions of lives. In fact, every 17 seconds, an American is diagnosed with diabetes. An estimated 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed each year.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the disease. However, it can be managed, and those with the condition can live long and fulfilling lives. And one of the best ways to live as well as possible is to get treatment early on, and that starts with understanding the symptoms.
In this blog, the experts at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina, explain why the disease occurs and what its warning signs are.
The basics of diabetes
Diabetes revolves around the relationship between blood sugar (glucose) and a hormone called insulin. When your body is working properly, insulin allows glucose to enter the cells of your body, and your cells use the glucose for energy.
However, if there’s not enough insulin, or if the body doesn’t use it properly, the glucose builds up in the bloodstream. If left untreated, high glucose levels can damage organs and systems throughout the body, including nerves and blood vessels, as well as the heart, eyes, and kidneys.
Typically, there are two possible causes for this buildup of blood sugar. Either the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes), or insulin production is enough, but the cells don’t react as they should to the insulin (Type 2 diabetes). In either case, you end up with too much glucose in your bloodstream.
The vast majority of people who have diabetes have Type 2. In fact, experts estimate that more than 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2.
Differences in symptoms between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
When it comes to symptoms, people with Type 1 diabetes usually experience symptoms quickly over a matter of weeks. In contrast, Type 2 symptoms typically unfold over the course of several years.
Remarkably, some people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes may not experience noticeable symptoms. In fact, the symptoms can be so mild that a person may not be diagnosed with diabetes until there’s a medical complication, such as a foot wound that won’t heal, high blood pressure, blurred vision, or a heart issue.
Similarities in symptoms between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
While there are some differences in symptoms as mentioned above, there are quite a few common warning signs. If you experience these symptoms, don’t wait to get evaluated. Contact your doctor so they can test your blood glucose levels and make a proper diagnosis.
Feeling run down or fatigued
Persistent fatigue or always feeling tired is a common early warning sign of diabetes. Fatigue may be due to dehydration. This symptom may seem minor, but if you do have diabetes and it’s left untreated, it could result in kidney damage.
Frequent urination and increased thirst
Your dehydration may also be related to another early symptom of diabetes: frequent urination. Although frequent trips to the bathroom can happen at any time of the day, in the case of diabetes, it’s especially prevalent at nighttime. This warning sign is often accompanied by increased thirst.
Another telltale sign of early diabetes is experiencing frequent infections. If you notice that you suddenly seem to be getting frequent urinary, vaginal or yeast infections, or even gum disease or skin infections, it could mean that you have diabetes.
Unexplained weight loss
Since diabetes throws off your body’s ability to metabolize glucose into energy, it may resort to burning stored fat, triggering weight loss.
Prolonged high blood sugar may cause eye damage, which could cause vision problems. If you wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses and are experiencing blurred vision, it may be a symptom of diabetes.
If you’re experiencing the warning signs of diabetes, get an evaluation by calling 919-752-3714 or booking an appointment online with Generations Family Practice today.