Are you worried that you, your child or someone you know, may have diabetes? Having some of the signs of diabetes doesn’t mean you definitely have the condition, but you should always contact your GP, just to make sure.
How can you tell if you have diabetes? Most early symptoms are from higher-than-normal levels of glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood.
The common symptoms of diabetes
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.
- Being really thirsty.
- Feeling more tired than usual.
- Losing weight without trying to.
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal.
Hunger and fatigue. Your body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy. But your cells need insulin to bring the glucose in.
If your body doesn’t make enough or any insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin your body makes, the glucose can’t get into them and you have no energy. This can make you more hungry and tired than usual.
Peeing more often and being thirstier. 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? 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.
You’ll have to go more often. You might pee out more, too. Because you’re peeing so much, you can get very thirsty. When you drink more, you’ll also pee more.
Dry mouth and itchy skin. Because your body is using fluids to make pee, there’s less moisture for other things. You could get dehydrated, and your mouth may feel dry. Dry skin can make you itchy.
Blurred vision. Changing fluid levels in your body could make the lenses in your eyes swell up. They change shape and lose their ability to focus.
Recurring Infections and Sores. Elevated glucose levels may make it harder for your body to heal. Therefore, injuries like cuts and sores stay open longer. This makes them more susceptible to infection.
Although the majority of people with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in childhood and early adulthood, the symptoms are the same at any age. Adults diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes may not recognise their symptoms as quickly as children, which in turn will prove detrimental as diagnosis then treatment may be delayed. The 4 Ts campaign (see below) describes the symptoms to recognise in children; however, these will match symptoms in adults and could include a further ‘T’, Thrush. High levels of glucose being passed in the urine are a perfect breeding ground for the fungal infection which cause thrush.
Why does diabetes create these symptoms?
These symptoms occur because some or all of the glucose stays in the blood, and isn’t being used as fuel for energy. The body tries to reduce blood glucose levels by flushing the excess glucose out of the body in the urine.
I have some diabetes symptoms. What now?
If you have any of symptoms of diabetes, you should contact your GP. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it’s worth checking – early diagnosis, treatment and good control are vital for good health and reduce the chances of
Emergency Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
As stated, high blood sugar causes long-term damage to the body. However, low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, can be a medical emergency. Hypoglycemia occurs when there are dangerously low levels of blood sugar. For people with type 2 diabetes, only those people who are on medications that increase the body’s insulin levels are at risk for low blood sugar.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- trouble thinking
- irritability or moodiness
- rapid heartbeat
If you are on medicines that increase the amount of insulin in your body, be sure you know how to treat low blood sugar.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
According to the Mayo Clinic, some children with type 2 diabetes may not show any symptoms, while others do. Therefore, you should talk to your child’s doctor if they have any of the risk factors — even if they are not showing the common symptoms.
Risk factors include:
- weight (having a BMI over the 85th percentile)
- a close, blood relative has type 2 diabetes
- race (black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander are shown to have a higher incidence)
Children that do show symptoms experience many of the same symptoms as adults:
- fatigue (feeling tired and irritable)
- increased thirst and urination
- increase in hunger
- weight loss (eating more than usual but still losing weight)
- areas of dark skin
- slow healing sores
- blurred vision
What happens if you ignore the signs of diabetes?
It’s hard to ignore the signs of Type 1 diabetes because symptoms can often appear quite quickly. But leaving it untreated can lead to serious health problems, including diabetic ketoacidosis, which can result in a potentially fatal coma.
Type 2 diabetes can be easier to miss as it develops more slowly, especially in the early stages when it can be harder to spot the symptoms. But untreated diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Being diagnosed early and controlling your blood sugar levels can help prevent these complications
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