Despite diabetes being a condition with lots of surrounding research (especially since it is common and has a significant impact on the world population), there is still lots of misinformation. Within the article we will focus more on the signs and any precautions you may have to be aware of.
What Are Some Early Signs of Being Diabetic?
Some of the early signs may include:
- The need to pee a lot
- Feeling more hungry or thirsty than unusual
- Extreme weight loss
- Having blurry vision
- Feeling tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Having dry skin
- Frequent UTIs
- Frequent infections
- Having a dry mouth or itchy skin
- Having sores or wounds that heal slowly
- Nausea and vomiting
What Are the 3 Main Signs of Diabetes?
Each individual will have their own experiences regarding symptoms and early warning signs of diabetes. However, the three main signs of diabetes include:
- Polyuria (increased urination): People generally produce about 1-2 liters of urine a day. However, those with polyuria often produce more than 3 liters a day. Because of the increase of glucose in the blood, the body tries to get rid of the excess through frequent urination.
- Polydipsia (increased thirst): People with polydipsia feel thirsty all the time or like they have a dry mouth. High glucose levels often trigger our kidneys to produce more urine to expel the excessive amount of glucose within our bodies. As we become dehydrated, our body causes us to become thirsty to make up for the loss of fluids.
- Polyphagia (increased hunger): People may experience excessive hunger or food cravings. It results from the fact that in someone with diabetes, their cells cannot use glucose (from their food) as energy. Those with uncontrolled glucose levels need to be careful because eating more will only worsen their already high glucose levels.
What Are the 7 Common Symptoms of Diabetes?
- Frequent Urination: Diabetes often leads to the kidneys having to work harder to remove the excess glucose. As a result, the body tries to expel the excess glucose through frequent urination.
- Excessive Thirst: Due to the body trying to get rid of the excess of glucose through frequent urination, your body is expelling fluids. Due to frequent urination, you may feel thirstier as your body tries to compensate for the loss of fluids.
- Extreme Fatigue: Because the body has issues where the cells cannot absorb glucose, your body is unable to turn glucose into energy. Thus, you may feel more tired.
- Extreme Hunger: frequent urination also means that your body is expelling nutrients from the body. Because glucose cannot properly be used for energy, you may experience an increase in hunger as your body tries to compensate for that loss of energy/nutrients.
- Numbness and Tingling: Uncontrolled glucose levels in the body can lead to nerve damage- which can cause a burning, tingling, or numb sensations in the hands or feet.
- Blurred Vision: High blood glucose levels can lead to dry eyes and blurry vision. Leaving this untreated can lead to long term issues such as vision loss or blindness.
- Slow Wound Healing: Increased blood glucose levels can also interfere with your body’s ability to heal wounds. Inflammation within the body can interfere with the immune system and an increase in infection occurrences (or slow wound healing).
How Does Diabetes Occur?
Generally, the body breaks down the food you eat into glucose and releases it into your bloodstream. The rise in glucose levels triggers a response from the pancreas- which releases insulin for the cells to use the glucose as energy. However, if someone has diabetes, the body is often unable to produce or properly use insulin. It can lead to dangerously high levels of glucose within the body.
What Is the Main Cause of Diabetes?
The exact cause of diabetes is not yet known or fully understood. There are many factors (such as one’s genetic makeup, family history, ethnicity, age, health, and environmental factors) that can affect the development of this condition within an individual. Factors will also vary between the different types of diabetes. For example, type 1 diabetes is often caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks its cells within the pancreas. The body is often left without enough insulin. Meanwhile, type 2 diabetes often results from a mixture of factors (generally involving family history, diet, physical activity, age, and obesity). The direct cause of gestational diabetes is still unknown, but changes in hormone levels play a role.
Is Diabetes Contagious?
No, diabetes is not contagious. It cannot be passed to another person through sexual contact, saliva, or blood. It is a disease where one’s family history/genetics, environment, socioeconomic status, age, gender, etc., plays a role in its development. As mentioned above, diabetes occurs when the body is unable to properly produce or use insulin.
Is Diabetes Deadly?
If left untreated, diabetes may lead to death. This disease can lead to severe damage to your brain, kidneys, nervous system, circulatory system, heart, bladder, etc. Neglecting to take your insulin and medications- and having uncontrolled blood glucose levels can even lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis- which is when your body begins to burn your body fat for fuel. As a result, it can lead to a dangerous buildup of ketones which makes your blood very acidic and can lead to a coma and death. Other serious complications that may arise include kidney damage, gastroparesis, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and hyperglycemia (where excessive blood sugar levels can lead to a coma).
Which Diabetes Is Genetic?
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have links to genetic predisposition. For example, research has shown that white people with type 1 diabetes often have genes known as HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4. Meanwhile, the genes associated with type 2 diabetes risk include:
Is Diabetes Hereditary?
Yes, diabetes can be hereditary. For type 1 diabetes- individuals are at higher risk of developing this condition if they have a parent with type 1 diabetes. The same goes for type 2 diabetes, but there is a stronger link with genetic hereditary. Studies have shown that in identical twins, if one twin has type 2 diabetes- the other twin has a 75% chance of developing it. Meanwhile, for type 1 diabetes, the other twin has a 50% chance. As for gestational diabetes, it is still unclear if it is hereditary or not.
However, it is also important to note that genetics is not the only factor that plays a role in the development of diabetes. One’s social environment also plays a significant role in raising the risk of an individual developing diabetes sometime in their life- which includes factors such as socioeconomic status, food environment, access to healthcare, culture, air pollutants, etc.
What Diabetes Are You Born With?
Very few people are “born” with diabetes. It is known as neonatal diabetes, which occurs in the first six months of the infant’s life, and the body cannot produce enough insulin. Babies born to mothers with diabetes may also have an increased chance of developing hypoglycemia (when blood glucose levels are low). Babies with this condition may experience shakiness, breathing, and feeding problems.
People often question whether people are born with type 1 diabetes. However, experts are more inclined to say that people are born with an increased chance of developing type 1 diabetes.
Is Diabetes Permanent?
The short answer will be yes- diabetes is a permanent condition for most individuals. One exception would be gestational diabetes- which usually resolves on its own after the delivery of the baby. However, people can manage and control their diabetes by living a healthy lifestyle and listening to their doctor’s instructions.
Is Diabetes Reversible?
Unfortunately, diabetes is a lifelong condition that cannot be reversed. However, some individuals with type 2 diabetes may experience a period of remission where their glucose levels are within a healthy range without the help of medication. It is important to note that when in remission, one’s diabetes is not completely cured- and can still return. Thus, it is essential for individuals to continue living a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet. As for type 1 diabetes, people with this condition will live with it for the rest of their lives.
Gestational diabetes usually goes away on its own after delivery if blood glucose levels return back to normal. If it does not go away, the condition has turned into type 2 diabetes.
How Dangerous is Diabetes?
Despite being a common disease, the CDC lists diabetes as the 7th leading cause of death in the US. If left untreated, this disease can have severe damage on the brain, kidneys, nervous system, circulatory system, heart, bladder, etc. It can also lead to the development of various conditions/diseases (i.e., cardiovascular disease, gastroparesis, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), diabetic retinopathy, etc.).
Another reason why diabetes can be dangerous is that it can go undetected in some individuals. Most individuals tend to experience symptoms that allow for there to be an eventual diagnosis of diabetes from the doctor. However, some people may not notice any symptoms until it becomes an issue- which can lead to unchecked damage to the body over time. Another reason it can be dangerous is that it requires a continuous commitment from the individual to make sure they are taking care of their health.
Which Diabetes Is Curable?
There is no current cure for diabetes. However, there are various treatments that can help you manage this condition. Treatment can include healthy eating, physical activity, monitoring your blood sugar, taking insulin, transplantation, taking oral or injected medications. With Febo, you can use our health toolbox app to help manage your condition. In our app, you have access to various features such as Pill Reminder, Sleep Log, Activity Log, Food Diary, Pee & Poo Diary and Trigger Diary.
Sources: Diabetes – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, Genetics of Diabetes | ADA, Genetic Factors in Type 1 Diabetes – The Genetic Landscape of Diabetes – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov), Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes | NIDDK (nih.gov)