What are the symptoms and complications of diabetes? This is a frequently asked question. Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus is actually a metabolism disorder in which a person suffers from high blood sugar due to two main reasons:
1) Unbalanced or no Insulin productivity
2) Body cells are not responding to Insulin as they should
which results in increased thirst (Polydipsia), always feeling hungry (Polyphagia), urinating frequently (Polyuria), weight gain or continuous weight loss as the most common symptoms. But Diabetes affects the whole system of the body which creates numerous problems for the patient to handle daily life.
You really need to understand that once diabetes develops, it is a long term medical condition. It requires consistent control by keeping Insulin & blood sugar in check. With proper precautions and treatment you can get ahead of this without letting it become a severe disease & destroying your life. But rather than keep worrying too much you must do something about it to control it, right?
First things first, you should know there are 3 types of Diabetes :
1) Type 1 Diabetes
2) Type 2 Diabetes
3) Gestational Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes:
This is mostly referred as Insulin Diabetes, due to body is not producing Insulin. So, the patient have to keep taking Insulin Injections to keep it in check & maintain a body functions for the rest of the life. It’s an early onset diabetes which develops usually in people under 40 years old. However, it is not very common and only approx. 10% of all the diabetics have Type 1.
Maintaining Insulin and blood glucose is very important. With support of regular medical checkups, blood tests, keeping insulin kits at hand, specific healthy diet plan, precautions and caring, patient can live a good healthy life with diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes:
This is the most common type of diabetes, approx. 90% diabetics suffer from this. In this our body cells don’t react to insulin properly which is a insulin resistance condition or simply body does not produce enough insulin to function. It’s a progressive disease, if you don’t take it seriously it will get worse.
This Type 2 Diabetes mostly develops in obese and overweight people due to high blood glucose caused by unhealthy diet and lack of workout to burn extra calories gained. Stress and depression play the worst role in it which causes body to release chemicals that can affect our cardiovascular and metabolic systems. As we get older, risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes increases and this is mostly due to reasons i mentioned above.
However, this can be controlled effectively by caring. Most people do not take it seriously until it starts affecting their daily life more often and that’s the sole reason we are seeing diabetics in every third house. And top of that, it’s an inheriting disease. If any of your family member has or had this, it increases the risk significantly that at some age you may develop it too.
So, it’s much better to keep your health, weight and diet in check rather than suffering from it earlier before time. Regular workouts, sports activity or even doing your household work as an exercise can significantly reduce it’s chances and give you a healthy life.
Gestational diabetes specifically affects women during pregnancy. As we know, during pregnancy women suffers from diet disturbance more often. And if the woman’s body does not produce enough insulin, it causes the high blood glucose chain reactions which includes gaining weight, cardiovascular & metabolic disorders.
However, when properly diagnosed and controlled, risk of complications during childbirth can be reduced.
As you know, diseases don’t occur suddenly overnight. Because, diseases are simply, condition gone severe. Type 2 Diabetes starts slowly as well, relatively not very high blood sugar level but high enough to start affecting body functions and developing insulin resistance, this Condition is called Pre-diabetes. Keeping your weight in check and a little control over high sugar food is a good way to ensure you don’t develop it. But, if someone in your family has Diabetes, it’s best to visit your doctor for a precautionary blood sugar test whenever you can.
Common symptoms of diabetes:
Now we know what diabetes is and why it progressively gets worse. Let’s get into more depth of the most common symptoms of diabetes, so we can take precautions and treatment before it gets worse depending on the symptoms.
1) Urinating frequently: Most diabetic patients suffer from this problem. They have to go to the bathroom too many times a day and because of it they spend a tremendous amount of time in bathroom. The reason behind this when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t produce at all, our kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood without diluting it first. And to do this kidneys absorbs water from blood to break and dilute the glucose properly which results into kidneys filling our bladder frequently and we have to urinate frequently to relieve the pressure.
2) Excessive thirst: This is simply related to your kidneys using water to filter more glucose and resulting frequent urination. As more you urinate, more water you need to replenish the lost fluid in body to keep functioning. So, if you are drinking too much water but still feeling thirsty every now and then, it might be the symptom of diabetes.
3) Intense hunger: when your body doesn’t get enough insulin to function, the glucose doesn’t break properly back into the blood to maintain energy required by your body cells which results in your system asking for energy the other way which is more food, resulting you feel hungry every now and then, even though you are eating timely.
4) Weight gain: So if you are feeling intense hunger frequently in a day and you are feeding on it every time this may result in continuous weight gain.
5) Significant sudden weight loss: This happens most commonly with patients of Type 1 diabetes and this is a major symptom of it. When our body doesn’t get enough insulin, body cells do not get required energy to function properly due to glucose not breaking down effectively. So, to replenish the energy required, muscle tissues, fat start getting used for it which results in significant weight loss. In Type 2 diabetes if weight loss happens, it’s comparatively very slow to Type 1 unless you are not feeding properly.
6) Blurred vision: As the diabetes develops more eye complications come eventually and blurred vision is one of them. In this it affects tissues behind eye lenses which causes loss of the eyes ability to focus the same way we adjust camera lens to focus on a particular subject before taking a shot. However, with proper treatment in early stage it can be treated before it gets worse.
7) Swollen gums: Unusually red, tender, swollen gums can be a sign of diabetes. Diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from returning gum disease such as bleeding, abscess filled gums and eventually loss of teeth if not treated properly.
8) Cuts and wounds not healing normally: Healing process of cuts and wounds highly depends on the blood’s ability to create thick clot on the surface to prevent continuous bleeding. And when there is high sugar level present in the blood it losses it’s clot and healing ability to make recovery fast even from small cuts and wounds which if left open untreated for some time can cause many other infections as well.
9) Numbed or tingling hands and feet: High sugar level in bloodstream can cause a lot of damage to tiny sensitive nerves. These nerves eventually lose the ability to send signals efficiently to our brain and because of this, you may experience tingling sensations or numbed hands and feet sometimes.
10) Irritating Itchy Skin: Rashes, redness, discolored spots and irritating itchy skin can be a symptom of diabetes. More you scratch, the irritating itch gets more intense which can result in open wounds and other infections due to surrounding environment.
11) Irritation: Increased fatigue every now and then can make you feel more irritation of surroundings. When the body does not have enough energy to keep up with all the things happening around you, mind just converts everything else into irritation to keep you from doing it and save energy.
12) Increased Fatigue: When your body cells starts lacking energy due to less or no insulin generation and glucose not breaking properly to replenish required energy, fatigue sets in and you feel too tired more often.
13) Sexual dysfunction: In men around 50 years old & above, diabetes can result in erectile dysfunction. So, if you are experiencing frequent dysfunction, it can be a symptom of diabetes.
14) Yeast infections: Women with diabetes suffer more in terms of vaginal yeast infections as our body cells ability to fight infections is drastically reduces due to high sugar level in the blood which affects the whole body functions and decreases resistance power to fight off infections effectively.
Complications of Diabetes:
Diabetes is a progressive in nature, if left untreated and uncontrolled, it severely affects almost whole body functions since it’s medium is our blood and it’s high level of glucose. Following are the major complications seen in diabetic patients which can result in critical emergency :
Eye problems: glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy.
Hearing loss: diabetes patients can develop hearing problems over time.
Gum disease: gum diseases risks are high among diabetes patients.
Heart problems: such as ischemic heart disease in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished.
Stroke: Combination of high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood glucose level increases heart stroke too much if not controlled.
Foot complications: neuropathy, ulcers and in worst case gangrene which may require foot be amputated.
Skin problems: diabetic patients are more susceptible to skin infections and skin disorders.
Healing of wounds: cuts and wounds recovery take much longer to heal properly.
Hypertension: It’s very common with diabetes, which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke.
Neuropathy: diabetes can result in nerve damage which can lead to several different problems.
Mental health: uncontrolled diabetes can result in depression, anxiety and some other mental disorders.
Ketoacidosis: a combination of ketosis and acidosis; accumulation of ketone bodies and acidity in the blood.
Gastroparesis: stomach muscle doesn’t work properly
Nephropathy: uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to kidney disease.
Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD: it may include painful leg muscles, tingling and sometimes problems walking properly.
HHNS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Non-ketotic Syndrome): In this, blood sugar levels get very high and there are no ketones present in the blood or urine.
Infections: people with badly controlled diabetes are much more susceptible to many infections.
Erectile dysfunction: male impotence.