Are you pre-diabetic? Find out everything you need to know

Ignorance may be bliss, but not when it comes to health. It is best to be aware of common but dangerous medical conditions that you can be afflicted by. Studies reveal that just 10% of adults over 20 are aware that they have pre-diabetes and are susceptible to developing the disease. It is high time that you become proactive and check whether you are at risk of developing diabetes.

If news reports are to be believed, then diabetes has become an epidemic. You could be diabetic, and not even be aware of it. People generally come to know of their illness during a random health check-up. That's true because the symptoms of the disease are often very mild and do not cause serious health implications.

Although diabetes is categorised into two kinds – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, the symptoms may generally be the same. However, symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are often hard to isolate. This is because in most patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes the condition progresses rather gradually, and the patients have no indication that they are suffering from the disease. The health issue shows up only during a screening, which is often a tad too late because by then there is n cure for the disease.

Are you one of those millions of people who are at risk of developing diabetes but are blissfully unaware of the dangers that lurk? Could you have symptoms of pre-diabetes? Do you know what the symptoms of diabetes are?

What are the most common symptoms of diabetes

Before discussing the symptoms of diabetes, it is important to note that showing signs of the symptoms is not an indication of diabetes. You will still need to see your doctor and on his recommendation have the levels of your blood sugar tested. Your doctor is the best person to determine whether or not your symptoms are related to the disease.

Here is a lowdown on the most common symptoms that point towards diabetes –

Frequent urination

If you are urinating more often then it could be a sign of diabetes. People suffering from diabetes urinate more often because their kidneys work actively, to process and eliminate the excess sugar present in their urine.

Excessive thirst

Patients suffering from the disease have an increase in thirst levels. You will feel dehydrated and parched and drink more fluids. This is understandable, because your body loses its water reserve due to the sudden increase in urination, leaving you dehydrated.

Some people may also feel famished, despite having eaten healthily.

Increased incidence of infections

Patients suffering from diabetes have an increased incidence of infections of the urinary tract, vaginal infections and yeast infections. Report frequent occurrences of these infections to your doctor, so he can run tests to diagnose the actual cause.

The high sugar levels in patients with diabetes can have adverse effects on your body's immune system, making you more susceptible to these infections.

Unexplained weight loss

You might want to consult a doctor if you go through unintentional and sudden weight loss. without actually having to try. Sudden weight loss is not a healthy sign and you should get down to the reasons for it.

If you suffer from diabetes you possibly will suffer weight loss because of your body's inability to use insulin to process the glucose and convert it into energy. Glucose is a sugar, derived from foods that you consume.

Read this article to learn more about a healthy dish for diabetic patients

In a healthy person the body automatically converts glucose into fuel, but when you suffer from diabetes this does not happen. However, you still need energy and your body starts to burn fat and muscle to meet its energy requirements.

You feel tired all the time

Fatigue is another common symptom of diabetes. You feel exhaustion for no reason. Things that you enjoyed doing earlier no longer interest you – walks, runs, a sport, going for a movie etc. You may also feel under the weather with flu-like symptoms.

Remember that glucose is the most important source of energy. When your energy source fails you, it makes you tired.

Blurry vision

Blurry vision is another characteristic sign that you may be suffering from diabetes. Of course, there are other reasons too that can affect your vision, but don't ignore it, if it happens.

Unchecked diabetes can lead to a disorder termed as 'diabetic retinopathy' which can hamper your vision.

The different indicators of Type 1 Diabetes & Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes has symptoms like those of Type 2 diabetes, the only difference being they occur rather unexpectedly. For instance, a child may fall ill, with symptoms of the flu, and when the child is rushed to the doctor the diagnosis shows the child is suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, are a stark contrast, they appear rather slowly, and can exist for several years before you even notice them. It takes time for the symptoms to develop significantly for you to take notice.

The confusing diabetes symptoms

Like mentioned earlier, the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes occur very slowly, making it difficult to track the disease. The symptoms are often confused for other things. Thirst can be attributed to the weather – too hot, too dry, too humid, too much air-conditioning. Excess urination can be seen as a result of ageing. Fatigue can be seen as just tiredness, caused by late hours, work pressure, commuting etc. A lot of signs overlap and there is always another explanation.

For instance, excessive urination could be caused by certain medication that you are on or something that you are drinking. Medication can have diuretic properties and make you urinate more often. It gets very confusing when we have other reasons that we can prescribe the symptoms of diabetes too.

Then there is the chance that you become accustomed to the symptoms and regard it as normal. The symptoms come about slowly, so the gradual build-up of fatigue or excess urination can often be ignored and seen as a normal part of life. You don't think of them an indication of a health issue. There are people who live with undiagnosed diabetes and they seem to be handling it fine because their body still produces some insulin, but it is not enough and they are at grave health risk.

Seeing a doctor

It is sensible to schedule periodic medical check-ups, more so if you have a family history of diabetes and lead an unhealthy lifestyle. See a doctor if you relate to any of the symptoms mentioned above. It is in your interest to identify the cause of your problems.

The medical examination for diabetes consists of a blood test. You will be asked to report to the lab, in the morning, on an empty stomach (8 hours fasting). The lab technician will draw a blood sample and ask you to have your breakfast and return after an hour, for the collection of another sample.

Alternatively, your doctor might recommend a haemoglobin A1C check. This test measures the average blood sugar counts over the previous three months. The A1C check exposes your susceptibility to diabetes by showing if you are prediabetic. This phase is curable and can be controlled through lifestyle changes, in the diet and physical activity.

While anybody can develop Type 2 diabetes, the risk is greater in people who are obese or overweight or suffer from hypertension and high cholesterol. Your risk is higher if your parents suffered from the disease and if you are a smoker.

Final suggestions

It is advisable that you get yourself screened for diabetes if you witness any of the above symptoms. Also, schedule thorough medical check-ups, after consultation with your doctor. Remember, you are at an increased risk of contracting the disease if you have a history of gestational diabetes, a family history of diabetes, are obese or suffer from other medical conditions. Diabetes is a life-long disease, it can only be managed and not cured. So, realise the importance of prevention of Type 2 diabetes.

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