Could You Have Diabetes And Not Know?

One in five people with diabetes don’t even know they have it. Early signs of diabetes include blurry vision, dry mouth, frequent urination, sudden weight loss, etc.

By URLife Team
13 Nov 2023

Diabetes is a global health concern, impacting over half a billion individuals across the world. This condition affects people of all ages and genders in every country.  And here's a scary fact: a 2023 statistic by The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates that over 101 million in India are living with diabetes. What's even more alarming is that a quarter of this population is unaware that they are living with this condition.


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It's likely that you have someone in your life who is affected by diabetes, whether it's a friend, family member, or even yourself. Fortunately, significant progress has been made in alleviating the impact of diabetes on a person’s daily life with the discovery of insulin. However, the battle against this condition is far from complete.


There are two main types of diabetes: 

  • Type 1 diabetes results from insufficient insulin production. 
  • Type 2 diabetes stems from the ineffective utilisation of insulin.


Both types can result in elevated sugar levels in the bloodstream.


Related Post: The Diabetes Guide: How To Balance Your Blood Sugar


Today, the prevalence of diabetes has reached unprecedented levels. Projections indicate that the number of individuals with diabetes is expected to surpass 1.3 billion in the next three decades, according to a 2023 study reported in The Lancet. Arming yourself with knowledge about diabetes empowers you to take proactive measures—whether it's prevention, delaying onset, or mitigating its adverse effects.


Warning Signs of Diabetes

Many live with undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes because the signs of the condition are very subtle. Frequently referred to as a "silent disease," diabetes can manifest in individuals without evident symptoms in the initial stages.


So, how to know if you have diabetes? The common symptoms of diabetes can be deceptively easy to overlook. It's crucial not to dismiss anything significant. Stay vigilant for the signs of diabetes, as early detection allows for timely management, minimising complications.


1. You have an urge to pee constantly

Frequent urination serves as a prominent indicator of diabetes. Elevated sugar levels in the blood prompt the kidneys to intensify their efforts to eliminate excess sugar. Consequently, increased urine production becomes a mechanism for the body to discharge the surplus sugar. Therefore, the need for frequent bathroom visits can be an initial sign of diabetes. If you observe a sudden and increased frequency of urination, particularly if it occurs without an apparent cause and disrupts your sleep with nighttime visits to the bathroom, it's advisable to consult with your doctor.


2. You’re always chugging water

Some individuals unaware of their diabetes may attempt to alleviate thirst by consuming sugary drinks like soda or juice, inadvertently raising their blood sugar levels. While occasional feelings of thirst are normal and can be attributed to factors like heat or insufficient water intake, persistent thirst coupled with frequent urination could indicate an insufficient production of insulin in the body. These symptoms may be your body's way of signalling an imbalance that requires attention.  Indications of dehydration encompass dark-coloured urine, a reduction in body weight, and intense thirst.


3. You may have blurry vision

Blurry vision is a frequently overlooked symptom of diabetes in women. According to a 2017 report by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the connection between diabetes and vision lies in the accumulation of fluid in the eye's lens as sugar levels rise (due to the fluid following sugar). This fluid buildup can lead to blurred vision, and nearsightedness, often prompting individuals to seek prescription glasses or contacts from optometrists.


Related Post: Managing Diabetes Naturally


4. You experience unexplained weight loss 

Rapid and unexpected weight loss, especially when not actively pursuing weight loss, often serves as an indicator that something is not right. Unexplained weight loss can be attributed to various factors, and diabetes is one of them. Insulin plays a crucial role in transferring sugar from the bloodstream to cells. In cases of insulin resistance, where cells don't receive sufficient energy despite elevated sugar levels, the body resorts to burning its own fat and muscle for energy. This process can result in significant weight loss, sometimes ranging from 10 to 20 kilos.


5. Your limbs tend to get numb

Neuropathy, a condition marked by sensations such as numbness or pins and needles in the extremities, affects over half of individuals with type 2 diabetes, as reported in a 2017 Diabetes Care review. The prevalence of neuropathy in diabetes can be attributed to the reduced blood flow to extremities and the gradual damage to blood vessels and nerves over time.


6. Cuts and wounds take time to heal

The diminished sensation in the extremities increases the susceptibility to injuries. Reduced awareness of cuts and wounds makes individuals less likely to address them promptly, leading to a higher risk of infections. Additionally, uncontrolled diabetes hampers the body's healing process. Elevated blood sugar levels create an environment conducive to bacterial growth. Moreover, diabetes often coexists with conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, contributing to plaque buildup in blood vessels. This narrowing of blood vessels diminishes blood supply, resulting in delayed healing processes.


7. You wake up feeling tired and sleepy

Certainly, there are numerous factors that can contribute to feelings of exhaustion, including diet, stress, and sleep patterns. Carbohydrates, broken down into glucose, serve as the primary energy source for the body. However, in diabetes, the body struggles to effectively utilise this energy source. Moreover, diabetes-related dehydration can further exacerbate fatigue. If extreme fatigue persists without apparent reasons and is accompanied by other diabetes symptoms, seeking medical evaluation is advisable to rule out or address potential diabetes-related issues.


8. Your skin develops dark spots

The darkening of the skin around areas such as the nape of the neck, under the armpits, or in the groin region can be a surprising yet common early sign of insulin resistance, which is the precursor to diabetes. This condition is medically referred to as acanthosis nigricans (AN). This phenomenon is frequently observed in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), who are at an elevated risk of insulin-related problems. If you observe new dark spots on your skin, it is advisable to consult with your doctor for a thorough evaluation.


Related Post: Keep Diabetes Under Check: How To Stop Diabetes Before It Starts


9. Infection becomes a common occurrence

Elevated blood sugar levels create an environment in the vaginal area that is conducive to yeast infections. Glucose serves as a fuel for yeast, promoting their multiplication. As per a 2022 report published in the American Diabetes Association, high blood sugar levels may foster microbial growth and weaken the immune response, leading to recurrent bacterial or fungal infections. Bacterial infections can extend to affect hair follicles and nails, resulting in issues such as boils and styes. Staphylococcus (staph) infections are among the most common bacterial infections. Fungal infections caused by Candida, a type of yeast, may manifest as conditions like athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm, and vaginal yeast infections.


10. You have difficulty in hearing

Diabetes doubles the risk of experiencing hearing loss. A 2022 study issued in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels can lead to damage in the small blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear. On the other hand, long-term low blood sugar levels may adversely impact how the inner ear transmits nerve signals to the brain. Both scenarios highlight the potential connections between diabetes and an increased risk of hearing issues.


Being aware of your risk for diabetes is crucial for proactive health management. Medical professionals strongly recommend individuals in high-risk categories to undergo glucose testing before noticeable signs of diabetes emerge. Detecting prediabetes, which often precedes a diabetes diagnosis, offers a significant advantage. Addressing diabetes at this early stage makes it more manageable, potentially delaying its onset or preventing it entirely. If you suspect you may have diabetes, seeking a blood test at your doctor's office is a prudent step for timely diagnosis and appropriate intervention.


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Ismail Babu Nadaf 14 Nov 2023

informative indeed

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