More than 130 million adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes in the U.S. – and 1 in 4 don’t know it. Recognizing the signs of diabetes so that you can seek prompt treatment and help with managing the condition is extremely important. If left untreated, diabetes can result in serious complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and chronic wounds leading to the need for amputation of toes, feet or legs.
Here are five of the most common symptoms of diabetes to watch for:
You’re drinking (and peeing) a lot.
Your body reabsorbs excess glucose (sugar) as it passes through your kidneys. But because diabetes causes your glucose to be so high, it can’t all be reabsorbed and so your body will produce more urine to try and better filter the glucose out. This causes you to become thirstier and to urinate more often. If you’re finding that you’re more thirsty than usual and urinating more than usual (more than four to seven times per day and especially at night), it may be a sign that you have diabetes.
Your mouth and skin are dry.
Following from the above, if your body is using all the fluids it can to produce more urine, there won’t be much left for other purposes. So you may experience dehydration leading to dry mouth and dry, itchy skin.
You’re often hungry, and you’re more tired than usual.
If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or it becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, which impairs your ability to generate energy. This can leave you feeling hungrier and more tired than usual.
You have numbness or tingling in your hands or feet and/or your wounds are healing more slowly.
Diabetes can cause restricted blood flow, especially in the extremities. Over time this results in nerve damage in those areas, which you may begin to feel as numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and feet. This restricted blood flow can also make it more difficult for your body to heal any wounds that develop in those areas, which is why chronic wounds – which can result in the need for amputation if left untreated – are common in people with unmanaged diabetes.
You have more infections than usual.
In particular, yeast infections can become more frequent when you have diabetes. This is because yeast relies on the presence of glucose to grow, and the presence of glucose in your body is high if you have diabetes. Yeast infections can develop anywhere on the body that is warm and moist, including between fingers and toes, under the breasts and in and around genitalia.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your your primary care provider right away about your risk for having or developing diabetes (if you don’t have one, you can get one here). If necessary, he or she will refer you to see an endocrinologist for further evaluation and care.
Our endocrinologists and Diabetes Management services at Harrington Hospital provide comprehensive care for the diagnosis and management of diabetes, including Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE’s) and registered dietitians that can help you to keep your diabetes under control. Our specialized Wound Care Center is also available to help treat and heal stubborn sores resulting from diabetes.
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