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Early detection of diabetes mellitus can help reduce any permanent damage to the body. This article outline the 12 early signs and symptoms that can indicate the presence of diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes is a common disease that can be well-managed and controlled when detected earlier on. The longer a patient has to wait before they are diagnosed and treatment is initiated, the worse their outcome is likely to be. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to heed the early signs and symptoms of diabetes, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

The early signs and symptoms of diabetes almost always relate back to excess levels of glucose, a type of sugar, in your blood. This is detrimental to your entire body and therefore, your body will emit several signals to convey that something is wrong with it.

There are two major different types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes. This type of type of diabetes often develops in children and is a chronic disease in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin (the hormone responsible for glucose metabolism).
  • Type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is generally adult-onset and develops because while the pancreas continues to produce insulin, the body’s cells become resistant to the amount that is produced.

Often times, these signals are quite mild and not noticeable, particularly in patients with type 2 diabetes. Thus, in some cases, people don’t find out they have type 2 diabetes until they develop complications from the disease.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the symptoms develop very quickly and are much more severe. Thus, patients find out pretty early on whether they have diabetes.

Early symptoms of diabetes

For both type 1 and 2 diabetes, these are the seven symptoms that develop early on in the disease progress:

  1. Feeling hungry. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin, the sugar can’t get into your cells, which makes them think you are starving. Cells them transmit signals to your brain that tell you to eat more so that your cells can get more glucose.
  2. Feeling tired or fatigued. Since the sugar cannot get inside your cells to provide them with energy, your cells become energy starved and that causes you to feel tired and fatigued.
  3. Frequent urination. Most people urinate between 4 and 7 times a day. However, people that have diabetes have to go a lot more frequently. This is because high blood sugar in the body causes the kidneys to not be able to filter the urine properly, causing your body to make a lot more urine and leading to frequently urination.
  4. Feeling thirty. Since you are peeing much more than usual when you have diabetes, that causes a lack of fluid in your system and causes you to feel dehydrated and thirsty.
  5. Dry mouth. Since you are chronically dehydrated when you have diabetes as you are urinating much more, these is less moisture in other parts of your body. Thus, many people experience dry mouth.
  6. Dry and itchy skin. Similar to when you have dry mouth, being dehydrated also causes your skin to lose moisture, leading to dry skin that causes itchiness.
  7. Impaired or blurred vision. Having diabetes causes your body to have fluctuating levels of fluids. This can make the lens in your eyes swell, causing your eyes to change their shape and lose the ability to focus on objects.

Symptoms specific to type 2 diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes tend to get these three symptoms when they have high glucose levels in their blood for a long period of time:

  1. Yeast infections. Patients with high levels of blood glucose can get yeast infections (men or women) as yeast feeds on glucose. Therefore, since patients have large amounts of glucose in their blood, it allows yeast to thrive. You can find yeast in these regions of your body: between fingers and toes, under your breast or around your sex organs.
  2. Cuts or bruises that are slow-healing. Since high blood sugar levels, over a long period of time, affect your blood flow, that can cause damage to your nerves and make it hard for your body to heal itself.
  3. Pain in your feet. Again, as a result of damage to your nerves, you can feel pain or numbness in your feet and/or legs.

Symptoms specific to type 1 diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes can display these symptoms:

  1. Weight loss. Since your body doesn’t effectively use the glucose in it, it will start to use the muscle and fat on your body in order to get energy. When your body starts to burn your muscle and fat, then that will lead to the development of weight loss
  2. Nausea. When your body burns fat, it makes compounds called ketones which can be dangerous when they are at high levels in your body. Ketones can make you feel nauseous and induce vomiting.

These are important warning signs of diabetes that should not be ignored. If you notice these then you should call your doctor right away and get a blood glucose test.

  • Blair, Meg. "Diabetes Mellitus Review." Urologic nursing 36.1 (2016).
  • Kharroubi, Akram T., and Hisham M. Darwish. "Diabetes mellitus: The epidemic of the century." World journal of diabetes 6.6 (2015): 850.
  • Kim, Catherine, Katherine M. Newton, and Robert H. Knopp. "Gestational diabetes and the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review." Diabetes care 25.10 (2002): 1862-1868.
  • Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth

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