The early signs of diabetes can be very subtle, on appearance insignificant, and easily missed. Spotting them early can ensure you take action to manage what is referred as ‘the silent killer’. We have previously outlined the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes – the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier and more effective its treatment, and potential for reversal. It is important to speak to your GP if you have any of the symptoms below or many of them combined. Ensure you set an appointment to see your GP for a diabetes screening if you notice any of the following:
1. Going to the bathroom more often
Healthy individuals can urinate up to 10 times a day if they are drinking the recommended amount of water. Otherwise, five to eight times is the norm unless on certain medication or diuretics for high blood pressure. If none of these applies and you find yourself going to the bathroom more often, or waking up at night to do so, it could be a diabetes red flag.
If you keep eating but hunger persists, you should consult your GP, even if you do not have any of the other symptoms of diabetes.
3.Chronic fatigue and feeling weak
When your body is not able to process glucose, it will not be able to use it to produce the energy you need, which leads to feeling very fatigued. Dehydration and disturbed sleep because of night-time urination further drain your energy. Fatigue can be a sign of many other issues, some not directly related to any medical condition, however it can be a sign of diabetes when combined with others in this list.
4.Blurred or double vision
Unless you have an existing eye condition, this can be an early sign of diabetes. High levels of sugar in the blood cause the lens of the eye to swell and changes shape. Blindness can result if left unchecked, not diagnosed, and untreated.
5.Unexplained weight loss
As mentioned earlier, the body’s inability to process glucose means it does not get enough insulin from the blood to use as energy. Instead, it starts to burn fat and muscle to produce energy which leads to weight loss. Sudden and unexplained weight loss is not good news, but a sign of underlying health conditions including diabetes. Kidney damage can also occur as a result of dehydration and as the kidneys work harder to rid the body of excess sugar.
When left uncontrolled, higher levels of blood sugar can cause yeast to overgrow, this is particularly the case in the vaginal area. Diabetes also weakens your immune system and makes you more prone to infections. Yeast and other fungi feed on sugar and thrive in an environment that is rich in it.
Itchy skin in different areas can be a sign of diabetes and can be caused by dry skin (from dehydration), a yeast infection (as mentioned earlier), or poor circulation. If you have diabetes you need to take special care to keep the skin moisturised and healthy.
High blood sugar increases inflammation in cuts and soars, but the poor circulation mentioned earlier also makes it harder for blood to reach and repair these areas. Feet are particularly impacted as the furthest away from the heart. Some statistics suggest an amputation takes place every 25 seconds somewhere in the world as a result of diabetes. If you have noticed that your cuts and wounds take longer to heal than before, make sure to mention this to your GP.
9.Dark skin patches
Dark patches of skin with a velvety texture in the joints or skin folds is a common sign of pre-diabetes and diabetes. These affected areas may also be itchy or have an odour. They most commonly appear in the groin, neck, armpits, elbows, knees, knuckles, or soles of the feet.
10.Numbness in the hands and feet
Numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands, feet, fingers or toes is another common sign of diabetes. Poor circulation can damage the nerves.
If you are concerned about any of the above signs, our diabetes screening service starts with a consultation and assessment with one of our experienced doctors. They will be able to confirm a diagnosis through a combination of testing and clinical diagnosis.