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Oh, Sugar! The Warning Signs of Diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month and what better topic to blog about than how to find out if you have diabetes.

First, let’s get the definition, types and statistics out of the way.

Diabetes mellitus, the fancy name for what’s commonly known as diabetes, is a group of diseases that affect how your body processes blood sugar. This sugar is referred to as glucose (another fancy name), which is your body and brain’s main source of energy and fuel. If you have diabetes, then that means you have too much glucose in your blood, which can lead to serious health issues. (Definition… Check.)

There are two types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes because it is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. The body does not produce insulin, which is a hormone required to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy for your body to use. Type 2 Diabetes is the more common type, where insulin resistance occurs. Your body doesn’t use insulin correctly, which results in abnormal glucose levels. (Types… Check, Check.)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million people are living with diabetes in the United States. What’s even more shocking is 8.1 million don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed. (And there are your statistics.)

Now that we’ve had a brief lesson, let’s take a closer look at the common warning signs of diabetes:

1. Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination
This is not a result of you finishing a vigorous workout like P90X or Insanity and downing a sports drink to restore your electrolytes. When you have diabetes, excess sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood causing your kidneys to kick into overdrive, filtering and absorbing what it can. The remaining glucose along with fluids drawn from your tissues are excreted into your urine, causing you more bathroom breaks and dehydration.

2. Increased Hunger
For women around that “time” of month, this part could be confusing. However, increased hunger (or if you want to be fancy- polyphagia) is one of the main warning signs of diabetes. When glucose levels are abnormally high (a.k.a. hyperglycemia), glucose from the blood cannot enter the cells so your body can’t convert the food you eat into energy. The hunger pains you feel is from a lack of energy. On the other hand, when glucose levels are abnormally low (a.k.a. hypoglycemia), the body responds by releasing stored glucose from the liver to bring glucose levels back to normal.

3. Fatigue
You feel tired and weak- not because you’ve stayed up all night binge watching a show on Netflix. Even after you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, you wake up feeling exhausted and groggy. This is from lack of energy. Where do you get your energy? That’s right- the food you eat. Why aren’t you getting the energy you need? You might have diabet
es. For the sake of redundancy, when diabetes is present, your body is having difficulty converting sugar into energy.

4. Blurred Vision
If you are not wearing your prescription glasses/contacts, then there is your answer. However, abnormal levels of blood sugar can also affect your ability to see by causing the lens inside your eye to swell, which can result in temporary blurring of eyesight.

5. Unexplained Weight Loss
Not that I’m complaining about this one, but if you haven’t started a diet or workout and you’re just dropping pounds then you should get checked for diabetes. Insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood into the body’s cells to use as energy which causes the body to start burning fat and muscle for energy, hence the unexpected weight loss.

6. Tingling Hands and Feet
Excess glucose in your blood can lead to nerve damage which causes tingling and loss of sensation in your hands and feet. I guess you can compare it to your foot falling asleep? That is never fun…

If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, stop reading this and go get tested for diabetes.

Well, how do you that? Oh yeah, keep reading…

A simple blood test can tell you what you need to know. You can visit your healthcare provider or take matters into your own hands and get a Hemoglobin A1c test here. This test is used to screen for, diagnose and monitor diabetes and prediabetes.

Just a final thought…

Thanksgiving is around the corner. We all know what that means… cakes, cookies, and carbs- OH MY! Do yourself a favor and get tested for diabetes before you fall into a food coma. Also, EXERCISE! This is the best way to stimulate insulin production and reduce blood glucose levels. So get moving and get tested for diabetes today!

This blog provides general information about diabetes. The words and other content provided in this blog are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.

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