Diabetes is a medical condition that can silently creep into our lives, often showing little or no warning signs before making its presence known. Recognizing these early indicators is crucial for early intervention and effective management of this chronic condition.
However, most people who later on get diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or Type 1 diabetes usually present with one or more of these symptoms:
- Frequent urination.
- Frequent thirst and hunger.
- Extreme body weakness/fatigue.
- Slow wound healing.
- Unintentional weight loss.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is mostly caused by lifestyle changes.
Early diagnosis of diabetes mellitus leads to a good prognosis. With individuals that have uncontrolled diabetes mellitus over a long period, we start to struggle with high blood pressure, then kidney damage, nerve damage, and to another severe extent even stroke, which are quite honestly life-threatening.
Identification of these signs and symptoms is made effective with an occasional screening of individuals both at the hospital and in the community. This would then lead to early detection of Diabetes and an immediate solution would be sought.
How do these symptoms happen, and at what point do you realize the need to seek medical attention?
1. Frequent urination
You have stopped to keep count of how many times you’ve gone to the washrooms because it’s becoming quite annoying. Usually, the kidneys have been given the duty to flush out anything that is not good for the body through urine, and sometimes we also lose important nutrients through urine.
When we eat, glucose gets absorbed into our blood system with the help of digestive enzymes and then into our cells and muscles with the help of the hormone insulin, and some of the glucose gets re-absorbed by the kidneys.
However, when you have diabetes, your body may not produce enough insulin to help get most of the glucose from your bloodstream to the cells/muscles and hence most of it lingers in the blood.
When the kidneys can not re-absorb all of that glucose they are forced to flush it out through urine and that is exactly why you can’t stop urinating. But once your glucose levels are in check, you don’t need to worry about frequent toilet visits.
2. Frequent thirst and hunger.
Frequent thirst or quenching comes in due to frequent urination, you are losing a lot of fluids through urine and the body starts to feel a strong need to replace it hence the frequent thirst.
Hunger on the other hand comes in not because you have not had anything to eat but basically because the cells and muscles are starved.
Yes, there is glucose but is it getting into the cells or the muscles? No! Because there is not enough insulin to facilitate that, maybe your cells are resistant to the insulin being produced, or maybe your pancreas does not produce any insulin at all like in Type 1 diabetes.
Hunger also comes in because of calorie loss through urine. A diabetic individual already on management is therefore advised to eat 6 times a day, 3 main meals and a small snack in between to give the body enough time to absorb the sugar into your system slowly but surely with the help of medications as well.
3. Extreme body weakness/fatigue.
Not because you haven’t had anything to eat but because there is not enough glucose in your body cells. The pancreas has a great duty to ensure the moment food gets into the digestive system, or just by salivating, it should produce insulin to start the work of getting the glucose from the bloodstream and into the body cells, basically to be used for energy.
When this is not achieved, then we wily start to feel weak. So when you eat well but still feel less energy, maybe it’s time to get your blood glucose levels checked.
4. Slow wound healing.
With diabetes especially when the blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, you may develop neuropathy and, then you stop to feel pain, especially in your legs. Even when you get hit or step on something you may not feel it.
Look at your legs, do you see any wounds, how long have you had those wounds? Why are they not healing? You ask
With uncontrolled diabetes, you find that blood flow is affected and of course, a slow wound healing is expected, hyperglycemia provides a very sugary environment for bacteria and they thrive and multiply hence making wound healing a hard process.
The good news is that the moment the blood sugar levels get back to a normal range, wounds start to heal quite fast.
5. Unintentional weight loss.
With the body being deficient in insulin, the body cells and the muscles will not get the glucose needed to be used for energy.
What happens then is that your body is forced to start burning fat and muscles for energy which then leads to weight loss without trying. The risks here include malnutrition hence reduced immunity making it hard for your body to even fight infections and more practically a very slow wound healing process.
In many cases, unexplained weight loss is one of the very first symptoms of diabetes, more especially Type 1 diabetes.
Uncontrolled diabetes leads to so many complications including blurry vision, hypertension, and even stroke in worse scenarios, as we always say
Early diagnosis translates to a good prognosis.
When you start to feel any of these symptoms, it will be good to seek medical attention as soon as possible.