Do you have diabetes? Here’s how to find out.
It is important for you to know early whether you have diabetes for you to be able to receive the best care and avoid its complications. However, the only reliable way to diagnose diabetes is with a blood test, which your doctor will request. So, should you see your doctor to find out?
If you have some of the early symptoms of diabetes, then you should definitely see your friendly MD. These are the following:
- Hunger and tiredness. When you have diabetes, your body is not able to efficiently use the food you eat. Therefore, you may feel hungrier and more tired than usual.
- Going to the bathroom more often. Normally, blood sugar passing spilling into the urine is efficiently reabsorbed by the kidneys. However, if you have diabetes, the kidneys are not able to sufficiently reabsorb the sugar. The sugar spills into the urine, while at the same time, attracting more water into the urine. This increases the volume of urine, which makes you urinate more often.
- Being more thirsty than usual. And because you urinate more water, you end up feeling more thirsty.
- Signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth and dry, itchy skin. The increased urination of water may also lead to dehydration. Dry mouth and dry, itchy skin are some of the symptoms of dehydration.
Important: Most of the time, early signs are very mild and difficult to notice—or may be noticeable when blood sugar levels are already markedly high. This makes these early symptoms unreliable.1
Late signs of diabetes
Some signs and symptoms of diabetes occur when the disease has been present for several years. These include:
- Yeast infections. These infections most often occur between the fingers and/or toes, under the breasts, or at the groin or genital area.
- Slow-healing wounds. This is caused by damage to the blood flow and nerves of the skin.
- Numbness or pain on the feet or legs. These symptoms are also caused by nerve damage due to high blood sugar.
- Dark, velvety skin on the neck, armpit, and groin. This skin condition, called acanthosis nigricans, can signal diseases such as diabetes.
- Blurring of vision. This is a possible sign of diabetes complications to the eyes.
Noteworthy symptoms of type 1 diabetes
People with type 1 diabetes also experience two important warning signs:
- Weight loss. Because people with type 1 diabetes produce insufficient amounts of insulin, the body begins to use muscles and fats for energy instead. This will cause profound weight loss.
- Nausea and vomiting. As the body begins to burn fat, a byproduct called ketones is produced. These ketones cause nausea and vomiting. Excess ketone build-up can also be life-threatening. Visit the emergency room immediately if you have nausea and vomiting.
Other conditions indicating you should get tested for diabetes
Given that early symptoms are unreliable and late symptoms may already be too late, it is also a good idea to be screened for diabetes even if you do not feel any symptoms. See your doctor for diabetes screening if you have any one of the following:2
• Adults aged > 40 years
• Previous abnormal blood sugar tests
• Body mass index of greater than 23 kg/m2*
• Waist-hip ratio of > 1 for men and >0.85 for women**
• A first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes
• Sedentary lifestyle (little exercise and/or a job that requires a lot of sitting)
• Blood pressure >140/90 mmHg)
• History of stroke, heart disease or diseases of the arteries
• Abnormal blood cholesterol levels
• Delivery of a baby weighing 8 pounds or heavier
• History of polycystic ovary syndrome
In summary, if you have any of the above risk factors for diabetes, or you have early or late signs of diabetes, do not delay. See your doctor today!
* To calculate your body mass index, divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. If you are using pounds and inches, divide your weight in pounds by the square of your height in inches then multiply by 702. It is best to use a calculator.
**To calculate your waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist-line by your hip-line.
2Jimeno CA, et al. J ASEAN Federation Endocrine Soc 2015;26(1):26.