There are several types of diabetes, and each has different causes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where there is insufficient insulin production as a result of beta cell destruction in the pancreas. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes has varying causes. It can be due to insulin resistance where the body’s fat, muscle and cells do not consume insulin like they normally do. Another type is gestational diabetes that occurs only in pregnant women primarily because of hormonal imbalances.
Although their causes are different, there are similar diabetes symptoms. However, type 1 diabetics often show abrupt symptoms that are severe in most cases. Meanwhile, those who have type 2 diabetes may ignore the signs as they seem minor. Anyone can have diabetes, but there are people who are more likely to develop the condition such as those who have genetic predisposition and obese individuals. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to more serious conditions such as stroke and heart disease.
There are three major diabetes symptoms, and they are called the 3 P’s. This includes polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia.
• Polyuria or Frequent Urination
People with diabetes are diagnosed due to elevated blood sugar levels. Instead of glucose being absorbed in the cells, it goes into the blood. This means it goes out of the body through urine. High levels of glucose in the urine can lead to increased urine output that will later lead to dehydration. In most cases, diabetics experience frequent urination at night or every hour. Diabetes in children often involves wetting the bed even during nap time.
• Polydipsia or Excessive Thirst
The body tends to compensate for the losses when it experiences dehydration. It makes the person feel very thirsty. As a result, they tend to drink a lot.
• Polyphagia or Excessive Hunger
People with diabetes feel hungry all the time. This is because there is a disruption in normal insulin performance. This is especially true when it comes to its effects on carbohydrates, protein and fat. With deficient insulin, the body signals the brain to demand the systems to ask for more food. This leads to an increase in appetite but more weight lost.
Other Diabetes Symptoms
• Dry skin
• Abdominal pain
• Strong and fruity breath odor
• Difficulty waking up
• Blurred vision
• Dry mouth
• Slow-healing cuts or sores
• Itchy skin in the groin or vaginal area
Aside from common diabetes symptoms, patients may also end up having complications if they are not able to manage it effectively.
• Diabetes on Blood Vessels and the Heart
When left untreated, diabetes can cause serious damage to the heart and blood vessels. With this, they have a high risk of stroke and other heart problems due to poor blood circulation resulting from too much sugar in the blood. In addition, about 60 percent of foot and leg amputations result from diabetes-related nerve damage or blood vessel damage.
• Diabetes and Teeth
Tooth loss and gum disease are also common diabetes complications. This will not be a problem if diabetics see the dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene. Doing so saves them from losing teeth or developing gum disease.
• Diabetes on the Eyes
Diabetes can also lead to eye problems such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Again, leaving it untreated could lead to smaller blood vessel damage in the eyes. When this happens, a person may permanently lose his or her eyesight. In fact, diabetes is now the leading cause of blindness in people in the U.S. Fortunately, those who seek help at an early stage can prevent total vision loss by up to 90 percent.
• Diabetes and Nerves
Nerve damage is a common diabetes complication. With this, diabetics eventually lose feeling or sensation. It generally starts from the toes. It can either be burning or painful. It may also cause pain in other body parts including the hands, arms and legs. Patients may also experience digestive, sexual and elimination problems.
• Diabetes and the Kidneys
High sugar levels in the blood can eventually lead to kidney failure. In 2008, about 44 percent of kidney failure cases were the result of diabetes. This condition is highly preventable when patients treat diabetes properly.
Diabetes complications may vary depending on the patients’ case. In many cases, diabetes shows no symptoms in patients who have atherosclerosis or heart disease. However, blood vessel damage in the legs may lead to decreased sensation, cramps and discoloration.
Furthermore, patients who have kidney problems related to diabetes may not see the symptoms at an early stage. It is only in end-stage renal failure where they experience foot and leg swelling.
Other Signs of Complications
• Pain in the eyes
• Vision problems or loss
• Numbness, burning, stabbing or tingling pain in the hands, feet and other body parts
• Digestive problems
• Inability to feel a full bladder
• Difficulty knowing when blood sugar level is low
Diabetes complications are life-threatening. With this, it is always best to seek medical help if any symptoms are experienced. In addition, diabetics should check their own glucose levels to avoid hypoglycemia and ketoacidosis.
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