How to Detect Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes is a condition that causes your blood sugar, or blood glucose, levels to be too high.[1]Glucose gets into your cells with a hormone called insulin.[2] There are two types of diabetes: type 1, which means your body doesn’t produce insulin; and type 2, which means your body doesn’t make or use insulin well.[3] In addition, some women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Diabetes can cause serious health problems such as heart disease or a stroke if you don’t get it treated.[4] But by detecting the symptoms of diabetes, you can get a diagnosis and manage the disease.


Identifying the Signs of Diabetes

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    Recognize your risk for diabetes. Although doctors are not sure why some people develop diabetes, there are many different factors that can cause or contribute to diabetes.[5] Being aware of your potential risk for diabetes helps you recognize the signs and can ensure you get a timely diagnosis and treatment.[6] The following factors may increase your risk of type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes:

    • Family history
    • Environmental factors, such as exposure to viral illness
    • Presence of autoantibodies in the system
    • Dietary factors, such as low vitamin D consumption or exposure to cow’s milk or cereals before the age of 4 months
    • Geography, countries such as Finland and Sweden have higher rates of type 1 diabetes
    • Weight, the more fat cells you have, the more resistant to insulin they become
    • Inactivity, exercises helps control weight and insulin
    • Race, certain groups such as Hispanics and African Americans are more prone to diabetes
    • Age, your risk increases as you get older
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
    • High blood pressure
    • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels
    • Gestational diabetes and giving birth to a baby over 9 pounds can also increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.[7]
  2. 2
    Be aware of what doesn’t cause diabetes. Diabetes is a condition related to blood sugar, so some people might think it’s related to eating sugar. However, you should be aware that eating sugar doesn’t cause diabetes.[8]
  3. 3
    Determine possible symptoms. Many symptoms of diabetes may not seem serious and aren’t necessarily specific to the disease, so it’s important to watch your bodily functions to detect potential signs.[9] Identifying possible symptoms of diabetes can help you get a timely diagnosis and treatment.[10] Symptoms of diabetes cancer include:

    • Increased thirst
    • Increased hunger, especially after eating
    • Dry mouth
    • Frequent urination
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Weakness or feeling tired
    • Blurred vision
    • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
    • Cuts and sores that heal slowly
    • Itchy and dry skin, generally in the vaginal or groin region
    • Frequent yeast infections.[11]
    • Frequent infections of the skin and gums.[12]
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    Keep track of possible symptoms. If you notice any of the signs of diabetes and are concerned they are related to the disease, pay close attention to your body. Note the symptoms you have and how frequently they occur in a notebook or on a piece of paper. These notes may come in handy if you have to see a doctor.[13]

    • Watch every bodily function that may be related to diabetes including how you feel after you eat, if you’re thirsty more often, if you urinate more often, and even how quickly you heal from cuts or sores.
    • Write down the specific symptoms, how often they occur, and what makes them better or worse.[14]
    • Make note of any feelings you experience that aren’t necessarily related to diabetes.
  5. 5
    Ask your significant other if they’ve noticed symptoms. In some cases, your partner or spouse may have noticed symptoms of diabetes that you overlooked. Talk to your spouse about any symptoms you’ve noticed and see if he has made similar observations or any others that might indicate diabetes.

    • Tell your spouse what the different symptoms of diabetes are so that he can tell you if he’s seen any changes in you or your bodily functions.



Getting a Diagnosis and Treatment

  1. 1
    See your doctor. If you detect any of the signs or symptoms of diabetes, schedule an appointment to see you doctor as soon as possible. Getting a timely diagnosis and treatment from your doctor can help you avoid serious and life-threatening complications.[15]

    • Tell your doctor any symptoms you’ve experienced and for how long. Consider using the notes you made as a reference during your exam.[16]
    • Make sure your doctor is aware of any risk factors you have, including a family history of diabetes.[17]
    • Ask your doctor any questions you may have about diabetes or its treatment.[18]Considering writing down questions before your appointment so that you don’t forget to ask during the appointment.
  2. 2
    Get a definitive diagnosis. If your doctor suspects that you have diabetes, she will order additional testing. There are different types of tests to diagnose types 1 and 2 diabetes as well as gestational diabetes.[19] The following tests are used to diagnose diabetes:

    • A1c blood test, which is also known as a glycated hemoglobin test.[20] This test shows your average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months by showing how much blood sugar is attached to your hemoglobin.[21] A level of 6.5 is considered diabetic.[22]
    • Random blood sugar test, which examines your blood sugar at an unspecified time. A level of 200 milligrams per deciliter indicates diabetes.[23]
    • Fasting blood sugar test, which is conducted after an overnight fast.[24] If your blood sugar level is 126 milligrams per deciliter, it’s considered diabetic.[25]
    • Oral glucose tolerance test, which requires overnight fasting and then drinking a sugary liquid the next morning. After this, your blood sugar levels will be tested over the next two hours. A reading of more than 200 milligrams per deciliter, it’s considered diabetes.[26]
    • Initial glucose challenge test and follow-up glucose testing analyze the blood of pregnant women who have fasted and then consumed a sugary liquid. If your blood sugar level readings are high for two of three readings, you’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.[27]
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    Learn about pre-diabetes. In some cases, your doctor may notice that your tests have elevated blood sugar levels that don’t qualify for a diabetes diagnosis.[28] This can indicate pre-diabetes, which means you could develop diabetes. However, pre-diabetes is also a potentially reversible condition.[29] Test result levels for pre-diabetes are:

    • 5.7-6.4% on the A1c test
    • 100-125 milligram per deciliter for the fasting blood sugar test
    • 140-199 milligram per deciliter for the oral glucose tolerance test.[30]
  4. 4
    Receive treatment for diabetes. Depending on the severity of your diabetes, your doctor will likely prescribe different treatments to manage the condition.[31] From insulin injections to healthy eating, following your doctor’s treatment plan is important to manage diabetes and minimize your risk of complications. Medical treatments for diabetes you may receive are:

    • Regular monitoring of your blood sugar at home and by your doctor
    • Insulin therapy, such as daily injections or an insulin pump
    • Oral medication such as metformin to stimulate your pancreas to produce more insulin
    • Surgery such as pancreas transplantation or bariatric surgery, which are only used for serious cases.[32]
    • Physical activity
    • Healthy diet
    • Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.[33]
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    Manage diabetes through lifestyle. In addition to any medical treatments for diabetes, your doctor will likely suggest helping to manage the disease by changing your lifestyle habits. These can also be a way to treat pre-diabetes and may prevent it from developing into diabetes.[34] Some lifestyle changes your doctor may suggest to help manage diabetes and pre-diabetes are:

    • Eating a balanced and healthy diet.[35]
    • Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.[36]
    • Losing weight.[37] Even losing just 7% of your body weight can help control blood sugar.[38]
    • Caring for your feet by checking them for injuries daily, keeping them clean and soft, and wearing breathable shoes and socks.[39]
    • Caring for your oral health.[40]
    • Limiting or avoiding tobacco and alcohol.[41]
    • Reducing stress.[42]

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