Sometimes, there are no symptoms of diabetes. When symptoms do appear, they usually include excessive thirst or urination, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, or blurry vision.
As explained by the CDC in its article on diabetes symptoms to be taken as a warning, the following are mentioned:
- Frequent urination, including during the night.
- Excessive thirst.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Excessive hunger.
- Blurry vision.
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Very dry skin.
- Slow-healing sores.
- More frequent infections than usual.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can appear rapidly, within weeks. In contrast, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes often progress very slowly over several years and can be so mild that they sometimes go unnoticed. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some only discover they have the disease when health problems related to diabetes, such as blurry vision or heart problems, arise.
Going Deeper into Diabetes Symptoms
In addition to excessive thirst and frequent urination, the following are other indicators of diabetes or prediabetes:
High blood sugar levels resulting from diabetes weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infections. Chronic yeast infections are especially common in diabetic women who do not treat the disease because the extra sugar in the blood promotes yeast growth. Other types of recurrent infections, such as skin infections, bladder infections, or urinary tract infections, can also indicate the presence of diabetes.
If it seems like you need to update your eyeglass prescription frequently, you should consider getting screened for diabetes. Rapid changes in blood sugar levels can cause your eye lenses to cloud or swell, leading to blurry vision. If left untreated, diabetes can damage blood vessels in the back of the eye and cause cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.
Erectile dysfunction, when a man cannot have or maintain an erection, is common in diabetic men. Studies indicate that both men and women who do not manage their diabetes well report decreased sexual desire. According to the American Diabetes Association, researchers believe that diabetes-related inflammation may affect the part of the brain that controls sexual desire, and low testosterone levels may also play a role.
Nausea or constipation:
High blood sugar can slow down the digestive process and cause nausea, constipation, or stomach discomfort. A typical gastrointestinal illness usually does not last more than two or three days. If you experience nausea, constipation, or vomiting that lasts longer than that, it’s more likely due to something else, but diabetes screening should be part of your doctor’s recommendations.
If you have a cut or scrape that seems to take forever to heal, it could be due to diabetes. The extra sugar in a person with diabetes’s blood delays wound healing, making them vulnerable to infections.
If you find yourself more irritable or your family complains about your mood swings, it could be another indicator of diabetes. Diabetes also causes fatigue, which can exacerbate mood swings. Elevated glucose levels affect the brain. An undiagnosed diabetic cannot control their emotions. Interestingly, once under treatment and with controlled glucose, these symptoms improve.
Unexplained weight loss:
Generally, losing weight is a good thing. However, if you have lost a significant amount of weight without making any changes to your diet or exercise routine, it could be due to diabetes. When you have diabetes, the sugar that your body needs for energy is excreted in your urine, so your body starts burning fat and muscle for energy. This can lead to rapid and drastic weight loss.
Dark patches on the skin:
Diabetes can cause the skin folds around the neck, armpits, or groin to darken and take on a velvety appearance. It may look like dirt on the neck, but it doesn’t wash off with water. These dark patches on the skin, called acanthosis nigricans, are a sign of insulin resistance and can be an early indicator of diabetes.
Acne or excessive facial hair:
Some women with insulin resistance develop thick, coarse facial hair because insulin can stimulate cells to produce male hormones that cause hair growth. These same hormones can also cause acne.
Another early sign of diabetes is the appearance of skin tags, fleshy growths that often appear on the neck, eyelids, armpits, and groin. While these skin tags are usually benign, many studies have found a higher risk of diabetes in those who have them. Researchers do not clearly understand the mechanism by which diabetes causes skin tags, but they believe that elevated insulin levels may be responsible. “Insulin resistance activates growth factors that make things grow and change.”
If you want to learn more about this condition, visit our article on the Causes of Diabetes.