Updated on January 16th, 2019
Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
Diabetes is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:
Types Of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes results from the pancreas’s failure to produce enough insulin. This form was previously referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM) or “juvenile diabetes”. The cause is unknown.
Type 2 DM begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly.
As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as “non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”. The most common cause is excessive body weight and insufficient exercise.
Gestational diabetes is the third main form, and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood sugar levels.
Key Facts On Diabetes
- Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels.
- The global prevalence of diabetes* among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014
- Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries.
- Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
- In 2015, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012
- Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.
Early Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes is often called the silent killer because of its easy-to-miss symptoms.
Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).
1. Frequent Urination
If you need to urinate frequently—particularly if you often have to get up at night to use the bathroom—it could be a symptom of diabetes. The average person usually has to pee between four and seven times in 24 hours, but people with diabetes may go a lot more.
Why do you want to pee so frequently?
Normally your body reabsorbs glucose as it passes through your kidneys. But when diabetes pushes your blood sugar up, your kidneys may not be able to bring it all back in. This causes the body to make more urine, and that takes fluids.
2. Excessive Thirst
Because you’re peeing so much, you can get very thirsty. The excessive thirst means your body is trying to replenish those lost fluids. When you drink more, you’ll also pee more.
Excessive pangs of hunger, another sign of diabetes, can come from sharp peaks and lows in blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels plummet, the body thinks it hasn’t been fed and craves more of the glucose that cells need to function.
4. Itchy Skin
Itchy skin, perhaps the result of dry skin or poor circulation, can often be a warning sign of diabetes, as are other skin conditions, such as acanthosis nigricans.
5. Blurred Vision
Having distorted vision and seeing floaters or occasional flashes of light are a direct result of high blood sugar levels. Changing fluid levels in your body could make the lenses in your eyes swell up. They change shape and lose their ability to focus.
6. Increased Fatigue
If your insulin is not working properly, or is not there at all, glucose will not be entering your cells and providing them with energy. This will make you feel tired and listless.
7. Sexual Dysfunction Among Men
If you are over 50 and experience frequent or constant sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction), it could be a symptom of diabetes.
8. Yeast Infections
When there is more sugar in your body, its ability to recover from infections is affected. Women with diabetes find it especially difficult to recover from bladder and vaginal infections.
9. Tingling Or Numbness
Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, along with burning pain or swelling, are signs that nerves are being damaged by diabetes.
10. Weight Loss
If your body can’t get energy from your food, it will start burning muscle and fat for energy instead. You may lose weight even though you haven’t changed how you eat.
11. Disproportionate Thirst
If you are urinating more than usual, you will need to replace that lost liquid. You will be drinking more than usual. Have you been drinking more than usual lately?
12. Gums Are Red And/Or Swollen – Gums Pull Away From Teeth
If your gums are tender, red and/or swollen this could be a sign of diabetes. Your teeth could become loose as the gums pull away from them.
Are you having some of the above diabetes symptoms? Do you think these are diabetes symptoms?
You are recommended to talk to your Doctor.