Check Out the Early Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
November 03, 2020
With around 77 million diabetics, India is second in the world for the largest number of people suffering from diabetes. This is why you need to understand what the diabetes mellitus disease is and adopt practices to prevent and manage it. As per the diabetes definition, the term refers to a group of metabolic disorders that are characterised by high blood sugar levels mainly arising due to a defect in insulin secretion or its action.
The insufficient release of the insulin hormone or an elevated insulin resistance in the body causes high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) and related symptoms. There are a few common diabetes types, namely:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
All of these develop for different reasons, some hereditary and others due to lifestyle, but they often have similar symptoms. Naturally, knowing how to identify these signs helps you get an early diagnosis and a jumpstart on treatment. To that end, here are 9 early diabetes symptoms you should watch out for.
Heightened feeling of hunger
When you consume food, your body digests it and breaks it down into glucose, which is then absorbed as energy. However, in diabetics, not enough glucose is absorbed by the cells from the blood. This is when you may experience polyphagia, which simply means intense hunger, as you’re not getting enough energy from your food. You may experience such a symptom even after just eating and this is a warning sign of diabetes type 2 that you should take note of. If you feel hungry often, even after consuming a heavy meal, go see a doctor.
Another key symptom to look out for as an early sign of diabetes is delayed healing. If you’ve got a cut, bruise or some form of injury and it is taking longer than usual to heal, then you should visit a doctor. Delayed healing is linked to diabetes, reason being that the high sugar levels in the blood damage the body’s nerves and narrow its blood vessels. This can impair circulation, restricting delivery of nutrients and oxygen to these wounds or sores. Moreover, wounds that take longer to heal also raise the risk of infection, even as having high blood sugar levels for a long time can hurt your immune system.
Known as polyuria, frequent urination is a condition linked to diabetes or its onset and, here, it is caused due to the higher concentration of glucose in the blood. As a result, the kidneys overwork to filter this out and this extra glucose in turn draws in more water. This can cause you to urinate more frequently, often more than 3 litres in a day, which is almost double the normal average of 1 to 2 litres. Frequent urination or polyuria is a dangerous symptom to have as it can cause severe dehydration and kidney damage. If you notice an unusual spike in the need to urinate on a regular basis, consult a doctor immediately.
You may also find yourself feeling extremely thirsty throughout the day. This symptom is called polydipsia, which is a known symptom of diabetes. It is caused by hyperglycaemia or high blood sugar and is, in fact, an early sign of diabetes. Polydipsia is compounded by the problem of frequent urination. In such cases, you must do your best to stay hydrated as polydipsia can be accompanied by dryness of the mouth and loss of water can cause dehydration.
A noticeable early sign of diabetes is skin discolouration. This is when you develop patches of darker skin on the folds of your neck, over the knuckles, on the armpits, near the groin or elsewhere. This is called acanthosis nigricans, which is linked to insulin resistance. So, if you notice random patches on your body and you aren’t overweight or suffer from illnesses that this symptom is linked with, you may be headed towards diabetes type 2.
As mentioned, lack of insulin or a heightened resistance to it results in lesser glucose being converted into energy. As a result, prediabetics or diabetics are often fatigued, or overly exhausted, even if no physically demanding task was performed. Moreover, fatigue can also be a result of dehydration or kidney damage, both of which are also problems that arise from being diabetic.
Having high blood sugar has many side effects, one of which is blurry vision. This is because the excess sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels in the eyes and this affects vision. In the early stages, this can be helped with proper diet and medication. However, if left untreated, the symptom may worsen and result in complete blindness.
Itchy skin coupled with yeast infections
As a result of dehydration brought on by polyuria, it isn’t uncommon to lose moisture from your skin. Dry skin can be itchy and can cause redness. Moreover, excess sugar in the bloodstream also leads to yeast infections on the moist areas of the body such as the mouth, genitals, sand armpits.
Unexpected weight loss
Unexpected weight loss can occur due to two main reasons: dehydration and muscle breakdown. In the first case, the frequent need to urinate can cause dehydration, which leads to weight loss. In the second case, the body’s inability to process glucose causes it to turn to fat and muscle reserves for fuel. As a result, there is a decrease in overall body weight. Sudden weight loss is a sign of diabetes type 1, but diabetes type 2 cannot be excluded.
So, whether you’re susceptible to diabetes type 1 or may be at risk of developing diabetes type 2, it is important that you’re aware of these early signs. This knowledge helps you stay alert and can help with an early diagnosis, which is key to keeping diabetes in check. Moreover, picking up the early signs also helps diabetes treatment as you could get away with a specialised diet without the need for medication. However, if you’re already experiencing some of the symptoms of diabetes mellitus, it is imperative that you visit a doctor.
A quick way to get the healthcare you need is to use the Bajaj Finserv Health app. This digital and free provision allows you avail medical care in fast, easy, and secure manner, all through your smartphone. You can book appointments at nearby doctor clinics, send over digital patient records, and even opt in for virtual consultations. With it, you can enjoy healthcare from the comfort of your home and skip long queues. To get started, get the app for free on Google Play or the Apple App Store today!