Diabetes is a silent disease lurking in millions of Americans today.
It puts people at risk of devastating health complications such as vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and worse, amputation of the toes, feet, or legs to name a few parts susceptible to infection.
However, diabetes is not a death sentence. In fact, it can be prevented, treated, and managed by sticking to a healthy and active lifestyle and taking proper medications.
As with any condition, early detection is the secret to effectively addressing diabetes. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of diabetes that one should be on the lookout for.
Diabetes Symptom No. 1: Shaking Hunger
Extreme hunger attacks to the point of feeling dizzy and unsteady can be a tell-tale sign of diabetes.
"When you have high blood sugar, your body has a problem regulating its glucose," explained Marjorie Cypress, a nurse from Albuquerque, New Mexico and the previous president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association.
"If you've eaten something high in carbohydrates, your body shoots out a little too much insulin, and your glucose drops quickly. This makes you feel shaky, and you tend to crave carbs or sugar. This can lead to a vicious cycle," she continued.
Diabetes Symptom No. 2: Slow-Healing Wounds
There are many possible factors that can affect or delay a wound's healing process. It could indicate an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, especially if other red flags are present.
For people with diabetes, high levels of blood glucose mess up normal blood circulation and cause nerve damage, making it difficult for wounds to heal. The simplest cuts, grazes, or blisters, particularly in the feet, should not be ignored in people with diabetes. If left untreated, it could lead to irreversible situations, such as infection and amputation.
Aside from being a potential symptom of diabetes, slow-healing wounds could also signal low levels of the human growth hormone in the body, rheumatoid arthritis, or zinc deficiency.
Diabetes Symptom No. 3: Excessive Thirst And Frequent Bladder Breaks
According to the Mayo Clinic, extreme thirst (polydipsia) and the increased need to urinate (polyuria) are classic diabetes symptoms.
The kidneys work harder than ever to get rid of high levels of sugar in the blood by flushing it out in the urine, along with other fluids from bodily tissues. This leaves a diabetic person dehydrated, hence the excessive thirst and eventually the frequent bathroom breaks.
Diabetes Symptom No. 4: Flu-like Signs
Diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, is serious.
It can happen to anyone with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting, nausea, fainting spells, stomach ache, and a fruity breath that smells like nail polish remover are typical warning signs of this condition, but it can also lead to coma or even death.
A medical emergency, diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when ketones, which are highly acidic substances produced when the body burns fat for fuel instead of sugar or glucose, pile up inside the body to dangerous amounts.
Screening For Diabetes: Who's At Risk
Because most symptoms of diabetes are not obvious outright and unique to the disease, the American Diabetes Association has recommended screening guidelines for diabetes.
Under the ADA's guidelines, the following high-risk individuals are advised to undergo testing for diabetes: anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher and anyone older than 45. Preliminary diabetes testing usually involves a physical exam, a blood glucose test, and a urine test.