Signs Of High Blood Sugar
Someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes will be familiar with how it feels to have hyperglycemia. But for the millions of people who have diabetes or prediabetes and are unaware of it, knowing the signs of high blood sugar could prompt them to seek care and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
While type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on suddenly and severely, its important to note that type 2 diabetes symptoms can creep up gradually and be so mild that theyre not noticeable, the NIDDK explains. And most people with prediabetes actually have no symptoms, per the NIDDK. So its extremely important to get screened if you have risk factors, like having a family history, being overweight, or being over age 45, the NIDDK says.
Still, there are many potential signs of high blood sugar in the short and long term that it doesnt hurt to be conscious of, especially if you are at elevated risk.
Early on, hyperglycemia can make you feel off in a variety of ways:
You Get Enough Sleep But You’re Still So Tired
Carbohydrates, which your body breaks down into glucose, are your bodys main source of energy. But your body cant effectively use that source of energy when you have diabetes, explains Goundan.
Of course, there are tons of other reasons you could be feeling exhausted, including your diet, stress levels, and how much youve been sleeping.
Still, if you can’t think of any other good reason for your extreme fatigue, and your low energy levels are accompanied by some of these other diabetes symptoms, its worth getting checked out.
Importance Of Early Diagnosis
An early diagnosis may help prevent complications.
Recognizing the early signs of type 2 diabetes can allow a person to get a diagnosis and treatment sooner. Getting appropriate treatment, making lifestyle changes, and controlling blood sugar levels can greatly improve a persons health and quality of life and reduce the risk of complications.
Without treatment, persistently high blood sugar levels can lead to severe and sometimes life-threatening complications, including:
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Youre Developing Blisters Dryness Or Other Skin Changes
Small pieces of extra skin, called skin tags, may form in the creases of skin, especially if you have diabetes and youre trying to find ways to manage your weight, notes the ADA. Dark, thick areas of soft skin may form on the back of the neck or hands, armpits, face, or other areas. These can be a sign of insulin resistance, Zanini says. Blisters, infections, dryness, itchiness, discolorations, and abnormalities of the skin can all be warning signs of high blood sugar. Check with your doctor if these skin changes develop.
High Blood Sugar Causes
You may be thinking that hyperglycemia can happen just from eating a super-sugary food, but its not really as simple as that. Sure, eating a lot of sugar or carbs can elevate your blood sugar level, but thats typically when your pancreas kicks into gear and creates insulin to move that glucose into cells throughout the body.
But when someone has diabetes, this finely tuned system gets thrown out of whack. In type 2 diabeteswhich accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes in adults, according to the CDCthe body either cant make enough insulin or cant utilize insulin well, according to the NIDDK. If someone has prediabetes, their blood glucose will be higher than normal but not quite in the type 2 diabetes range yet, per the NIDDK. And in type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin or makes very little.
In any case, the result is extra sugar hanging around the bloodstream, making you feel like total crap in the short term and putting your health at risk in the long term.
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Youre Moody And Grumpy
When your blood sugar is out of whack, you just dont feel well, says Cypress, and might become more short-tempered. In fact, high blood sugar can mimic depression-like symptoms. You feel very tired, you dont feel like doing anything, you dont want to go out, you just want to sleep, Cypress says. Shell see patients who think they need to be treated for depression, but then experience mood improvement after their blood sugar normalizes.
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Blood Sugar Levels: What’s Normal What’s Not And How To Measure
What do blood glucose levels mean and what range is healthy? Here’s what you need to know.
Sugar can lead to high blood sugar and contributes to the development of diabetes.
We all want to keep track of our health in every way we can — you may weigh yourself, keep track of your blood pressure or monitor your resting heart rate. But how close of an eye do you keep on your blood sugar?
People with diabetes are all too familiar with their blood sugar levels, but the rest of us might not even think about it much. However, consistently high blood sugar levels can coexist with Type 2 diabetes and cause serious health conditions like kidney disease, nerve problems or stroke.
While that’s no reason to panic, when it comes to our health, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on inside of our bodies. Without further ado, let’s get into what blood sugar means, how to measure it and everything else you need to know.
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How Do I Know If I Have Diabetes
January 24, 2020 by Diabetes Care
Symptoms of diabetes can be very mild. Many symptoms for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar, however it is more difficult to detect symptoms for type 2 diabetes since the disease progresses very slowly. Usually you can only diagnose type 2 diabetes with a screening test. As a result, many Canadians are unaware that they have this condition.
Read on to learn more about:
- Symptoms of diabetes
- The different types of diabetes
- Why early diagnosis is important
- How to go about getting a diagnosis
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
You’ll be given a special sweetened drink prior to this blood test. A test result of 11.1 mmol/L or greater taken two hours after having the sweet drink indicates diabetes.
A second test must be done in all cases . Once diabetes has been diagnosed, ask your doctor to refer you for diabetes education. Diabetes Canada also has many resources to help you understand diabetes better and live a long and healthy life. Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and managing the disease is not easy. But it is important to know that you can live a long and healthy life by taking a number of steps including keeping your blood sugar levels in target range.
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You Have Noticeably Blurry Vision And Frequent Headaches
You may notice that your vision isnt as clear as it used to be and that things may appear a bit blurry. High blood sugar levels can lead to swollen lenses in your eye from fluid leaking in, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. This changes the shape of the lens, which makes it unable to properly focus, causing blurred vision. You may also find yourself struggling at work, having difficulty driving, and suffering from frequent headaches, Emanuele notes.
Your Cuts And Bruises Take Forever To Heal
Reduced sensation in your extremities makes you more prone to injuries. Youre less likely to notice a cut because you cant feel it, which means youre less likely to take care of it and its more likely to get infected, says Goundan.
Then, once you do have an injury, uncontrolled diabetes can make it harder for your body to heal. High blood sugars provide a good environment for bacteria to grow, she says. That’s because diabetes is also often accompanied by high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and the resulting plaque buildup can narrow blood vessels, reducing blood supply and leading to slow healing.
Diabetes can also weaken the T-cells that make up your immune systemyour bodys defense against infection. When you have high blood sugar, its like delaying your bodys army to go to the wound to heal it, says Kellis.
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Who Is At Risk Of Getting Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, and the causes arenât known, but people with a family history of the condition are at higher risk of developing it than those with no familial connection.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who are overweight , who have very low levels of physical activity and who eat an unhealthy diet.
âThings like family history, obesity, poor diet â and by poor diet, I mean processed foods, high-carbohydrate foods, ice-cream, soft drinks, processed foodâ¦ theyâre all risk factors,â says Hamish.
Women who are overweight and have polycystic ovarian syndrome
Being older than 35 and from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background
Having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes â think: maintaining a healthy weight, moving regularly, eating a balanced diet and not smoking. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, managing those is also important.
When To See A Doctor
Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days.
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.
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Can Diabetes Be Prevented
Type 1 diabetes cant be prevented.
You may be able to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by managing your weight, staying active, and following a healthy diet. However, genetics and other risk factors may increase your risk despite your best efforts.
If you have any risk factors for diabetes, its important to get regular checkups with your doctor or healthcare professional. This will help prevent diabetes from progressing and causing other serious health complications.
Youre Hungrier Than Usual But Losing Weight
Many people with uncontrolled high blood sugar find that theyre hungrier than usual, which signals a symptom called polyphagia, MedlinePlus notes. And although youre eating more, you may be losing weight for no apparent reason if your blood sugar levels are too high, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Since your body is not getting energy from the preferred source, glucose, it has to turn to muscle and fat, Zanini explains. When your body starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy, you experience unintentional and unhealthy weight loss. In addition to these changes in weight and appetite, you may notice weakness in your muscles and experience more frequent falls, Emanuele adds.
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Common Signs And Symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of undiagnosed or poorly managed Type 2 diabetes include:
- feeling thirsty all the time – drinking excessive amounts of liquids or unable to quench your thirst
- peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- feeling tired, lack of energy, sleeping more than usual
- losing weight without trying to
- frequent infections, cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- numbness, pain or tingling in your hands or feet
- blurred vision
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
Regular Testing Can Put You In The Know
Often what happens is people minimize the symptoms or rationalize them and they get worse until they become severe enough that they have to see someone, Dr. Pantalone says. They have excessive weight loss or are really tired of peeing all night.
Because symptoms of diabetes are often subtle or nonexistent, especially around the onset, its important to see your doctor regularly for a checkup and testing. This is particularly vital if you are overweight or have risk factors if diabetes runs in your family, for instance.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for type 2 diabetes if you are between the ages of 40 and 70. If results are normal, you should repeat the testing every three years. If you have a risk factor, the task force recommends beginning screening at a younger age and testing more frequently.
Does Your Diabetes Type Ever Change
Even ignoring the high numbers of people with Type 1.5 who are initially misdiagnosed as Type 2, the lines between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes often get blurred over time. Due to aging and weight gain in those with Type 1, the progressive nature of beta-cell failure in Type 2, and the mixture of obesity and antibodies in young people, those with one type of diabetes often tend to take on characteristics of the other.
With less exercise and more weight around the middle, some Type 1s become not only insulin-deficient but also insulin resistant. They can develop the cardiac risks associated with Metabolic Syndrome and benefit from medications that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. More insulin is required to control glucose levels, while certain Type 2 medications, like Glucophage and GLP-1 agonists, may benefit their control.
On the other hand, as Type 2 diabetes progresses, insulin production may diminish to a point where it can no longer maintain normal glucose levels. Insulin will be required to keep glucose levels under control. Some people with Type 2 eventually become dependent on insulin and can go into ketoacidosis in stressful situations. In fact, ketoacidosis is about twice as common in Type 2 diabetes as it is in Type 1.
Lab Tests Used for DiagnosisA variety of lab tests and clinical signs help to provide the information needed to determine which type of diabetes a person has correctly.
Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range can be challenging.
When the amount of sugar in your blood has dropped below your target range , it is called low blood sugar .
If your blood sugar has dropped, you may feel:
- shaky, light-headed, nauseated
- numbness or tingling on your tongue or lips
Symptoms of very low blood sugar are more severe and can make you:
- confused and disoriented
- lose consciousness
- have a seizure
Make sure you always wear your MedicAlert® identification and talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about prevention and emergency treatment for severe low blood sugar.
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Make Physical Activity Part Of Your Daily Routine
Set a goal to be more physically active. Try to work up to 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week.
Brisk walking and swimming are good ways to move more. If you are not active now, ask your health care team about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. Learn more about being physically active with diabetes.
Following your meal plan and being more active can help you stay at or get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care team to create a weight-loss plan that is right for you.
What Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Diabetes Are The Same In Men And Women
There are diabetes warning signs and symptoms that both women and men have in common, for example:
- Excessive thirst and hunger
Men who have type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone than men who do not have diabetes. Because of the low levels of the hormone testosterone, men with diabetes can have unhealthy symptoms that are not seen in women with diabetes.
Erectile dysfunction , or inability to get or maintain an erection, is a common symptom of diabetes in men. Diabetic men experience erectile dysfunction at earlier ages than men who do not have diabetes.
Another diabetes-related sexual dysfunction symptom in men is reduced amounts of ejaculation, or retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation is a condition in which the semen goes into the bladder, rather than out of the body through the urethra. Diabetes and damage to the blood vessels causes nerve damage to the muscles that control the bladder and urethra, which results in this problem.
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Can Symptoms Appear Suddenly
In people with type 1 diabetes, the onset of symptoms can be very sudden, while in type 2 diabetes, they tend to come about more gradually, and sometimes there are no signs at all.
Symptoms sometimes occur after a viral illness. In some cases, a person may reach the point of diabetic ketoacidosis before a type 1 diagnosis is made. DKA occurs when blood glucose is dangerously high and the body can’t get nutrients into the cells because of the absence of insulin. The body then breaks down muscle and fat for energy, causing an accumulation of ketones in the blood and urine. Symptoms of DKA include a fruity odor on the breath, heavy, taxed breathing and vomiting. If left untreated, DKA can result in stupor, unconsciousness, and even death.
People who have symptomsof type 1 or of DKAshould contact their health care provider immediately for an accurate diagnosis. Keep in mind that these symptoms could signal other problems, too.
Some people with type 1 have a “honeymoon” period, a brief remission of symptoms while the pancreas is still secreting some insulin. The honeymoon phase usually occurs after someone has started taking insulin. A honeymoon can last as little as a week or even up to a year. But its important to know that the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean the diabetes is gone. The pancreas will eventually be unable to secrete insulin, and, if untreated, the symptoms will return.