Following symptoms are used as a guideline only to pre-diagnose diabetes condition. However, one must note here that each individual’s response is very unique. The exact set of symptoms encountered will vary. It’s not impossible that some of the symptoms will fall in the other category for some individuals. It is highly advised that if you are experiencing any set of these symptoms, immediately contact your family physician and request more detailed tests.

Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes:

Although these days, diabetes is a common condition, parents still often over diagnose their children as being sick with diabetes. For a child, simply increased thirst and frequent urination is often not a real symptom of diabetes, unless it is accompanied by significant weight loss and other symptoms. The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) may occur suddenly, and include:
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Urinating at night (nocturnal enuresis)
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Heavy or labored breathing
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Fruity odor on the breath

Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be harder to diagnose in teens and adults, who instead of losing weight, are often overweight when they have diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes may not have symptoms for years or decades, but as the disease progresses and blood sugar levels rise, symptoms develop. People with type 2 diabetes may have the following signs and symptoms:
  • blurred sight
  • decreased sensation or numbness in the hands and feet
  • dry, itchy skin
  • frequent bladder and vaginal infections
  • frequent need to urinate
  • increased thirst and hunger
  • male impotence (erectile dysfunction)
  • slow healing of cuts or sores
  • tiredness
Unfortunately, many people with type 2 diabetes go undiagnosed for several years and are not diagnosed until they go to the doctor with symptoms or complications of diabetes.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose):

As part of proper diabetes management, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of abnormal blood glucose levels and know how to properly monitor your blood glucose levels using a home glucose meter. Symptoms of hypoglycemia are divided into the adrenergic and the neuroglycopenicAdrenergic responses are caused by increased activity of the autonomic nervous system and may be triggered by a rapid fall in blood glucose (Blood Glucose) or by low absolute Blood Glucose levels. These symptoms include:
  • weakness
  • sweating
  • tachycardia
  • palpitations
  • tremor
  • nervousness
  • irritability
  • tingling of mouth and fingers
  • hunger
  • nausea or vomiting (unusual)
The autonomic nervous system activity also causes the secretion of epinephrine, glucagon, cortisol and growth hormone. The first two are secreted rapidly and eliminated rapidly. The second two are secreted slowly and remain active for 4-6 hours, and may cause reactive hyperglycemia.
Neuroglycopenic responses are caused by decreased activity of the central nervous system and are triggered only by low absolute Blood Glucose levels; symptoms include:
  • headache
  • hypothermia
  • visual disturbances
  • mental dullness
  • confusion
  • amnesia
  • seizures
  • coma
 

Note:

Remember to always keep glucose tablets or candies containing sugar with you at all times to manage low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia).

Pre-Diabetes:

Like type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes can occur without you knowing it, so being aware of your risks and being tested are important. This is especially true if you have pre-diabetes as part of the “metabolic syndrome,” meaning you also have high blood pressure, high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (the “good” cholesterol) and a tendency toward abdominal obesity.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
  • Being 40 years of age or older
  • Having a close relative (parent or sibling) who has type 2 diabetes
  • Being a member of a high-risk population, such as those of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent
  • Having a history of impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
  • Having already some evidence of the complications of diabetes, such as eye, nerve or kidney problems
  • Having heart disease
  • Having a history of gestational diabetes mellitus
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Being overweight, especially around your abdomen

The risk for type 2 diabetes is higher as you grow older!

so the Canadian Diabetes Association recommends screening by testing fasting plasma glucose for everyone once they reach age 40 and every three years after that. If you have risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, you should be tested more frequently or start regular screening earlier.

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