According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects more than 10% of the US population, and one in every five people is unaware they have it.
According to Dr. Nuha El Sayed, vice president of healthcare improvement for the American Diabetes Association, prediabetes can often arise without symptoms, making it difficult to detect without bloodwork or until it progresses to type 2 diabetes.
“It can take years for it to mature. A lot of the time, individuals are walking about and have no idea what they are doing.”
However, several telltale signs might help you decide if you have diabetes. Changes in your skin, weight, and bathroom habits may all indicate problems with blood sugar control – and while no single symptom definitely indicates diabetes, having multiple may necessitate a visit to the doctor, according to El Sayed.
Darker areas of skin may be a symptom of diabetes.
According to El Sayed, one less widely addressed indication of diabetes is changes in skin tone and texture, which commonly appear at joint creases such as the nape of the neck or under the arms.
High levels of insulin can activate the patches, prompting skin cells to develop at a faster rate. The darkening, called technically as “acanthosis nigricans,” can affect persons of any skin tone.
“It may be easier to identify in persons with fair complexion, but you can still see it in those with darker skin when compared to the surrounding area,” El Sayed said.
The skin’s texture may also change, thickening or having a velvety sensation.
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High blood sugar levels might cause slow-healing wounds or frequent infections.
If minor injuries such as cuts and bruises do not heal, you may have diabetes-related elevated blood sugar, according to El Sayed.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause high blood sugar levels, which can restrict circulation and impair the body’s capacity to heal. As a result, you may not recover from injuries as quickly, and exposed wounds may be more prone to infection.
You could also be more prone to other types of infection, such as yeast infections or skin infections.
Having to pee more frequently or urgently is a red indicator.
More frequent urination is another basic sign of diabetes.
According to El Sayed, what counts as “often” might vary — it could be as many as 20 trips to the bathroom in a day for some people, but it could also be much more subtle.
“If you’re used to going 2 or 3 times a day and suddenly going 8 times a day, that could be an issue,” she says.
Another red flag is an increased sense of urgency, or an inability to get to the restroom on time.
“It’s not healthy if you find yourself limiting the amount of water you consume,” El Sayed remarked.
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Testing is required when there is a sudden, unexplained weight loss.
Rapid weight loss could be another sign that your body is unable to handle blood sugar or insulin.
Weight loss could be caused by a variety of factors other than diabetes, but when combined with other symptoms, it’s an excellent reason to get checked, according to El Sayed.
If your breath smells like nail paint remover, you should seek medical assistance immediately.
Many common diabetes symptoms warrant a doctor’s visit, but in other circumstances, more immediate medical attention is required.
Smelling acetone or nail polish remover on someone’s breath could be an indication of diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal illness. The distinctive stench, shortness of breath, or changes in your mental condition, such as confusion or amnesia, are all reasons to seek medical attention right once, according to El Sayed.
While there is no known technique to prevent or cure type 1 diabetes, lifestyle adjustments can help prevent or postpone type 2 diabetes:
Losing weight, even if it is only 5% to 7% of your total weight, can reduce your chance of getting type 2 diabetes.
Physical activity can improve blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. A minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, is recommended.
Making healthier food choices, such as limiting your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages or including more vegetables in your diet, can have a direct impact on blood glucose levels, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Learning to handle stress reduces stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can produce high blood glucose levels.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you experience any of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, it is critical that you see your doctor. Simple blood tests are used to screen for diabetes. Diabetes and prediabetes can be detected using a variety of screening tests.
The haemoglobin A1C (A1C or HbA1C) test is a blood test that examines the three-month average of your blood glucose levels. This test does not require you to fast. It is also utilised as a diabetes management metric.
The fasting blood glucose test measures your blood glucose level after you haven’t eaten for eight to twelve hours, usually overnight. It’s also used to keep track of blood glucose levels in diabetics.
The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is a blood test that is performed after fasting overnight and then consuming a sugary beverage provided by your healthcare professional. Blood is then drawn multiple times over the course of two to three hours.
The random blood glucose test is a blood test that determines your blood sugar level at a single point in time, whether or not you are fasting. The results of this test might vary greatly based on a variety of factors, including dietary intake. This test is only used to diagnose diabetes when other characteristic diabetic symptoms are present.
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Blood Sugar Levels to Aim For
The following are blood glucose goal numbers for each test type, as well as readings that indicate prediabetes or diabetes:
- Less than 5.7 percent is considered normal.
- Diabetes is present in 5.7 to 6.4 percent of the population.
- Diabetes has a prevalence of 6.5 percent or higher.
Test for fasting blood glucose levels:
- Less than 100 mg/dl is considered normal.
- Diabetes mellitus: 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl
- Diabetes is defined as a blood sugar level of 126 mg/dl or greater.
OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test):
- Less than 140 mg/dl is considered normal.
- Diabetes mellitus: 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
- Diabetes: a blood sugar level of 200 mg/dl or higher
Glucose test at random:
Diabetes: a blood sugar level of 200 mg/dl or higher
You might be more aware of when something appears amiss if you take care of your overall health and are in tune with your body. If you observe any of these diabetes symptoms or anything else that makes you feel unusual, it’s vital to seek testing and assessment with your health care physician and, if necessary, see a specialist.
Diabetes is a treatable disease, but early detection and treatment under the supervision of a trustworthy medical expert are critical.