Diabetes is a highly prevalent chronic condition that occurs either when the patient’s pancreas doesn’t produce sufficient insulin or the patient’s body cannot effectively process the insulin that the pancreas produces. It is one of the four main non-communicable diseases (namely (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes), and according to the International Diabetes Foundation, it affects over 537 million adults.
When dealing with diabetes, it is always best to consult with a medical professional to help guide you to the best course of treatment. Diabetes, like most medical concerns, is a highly nuanced condition and symptoms and treatment will vary from case to case. There are several diabetes causes and symptoms, and it is most commonly classified into four types:
- Type 1 diabetes – Classified as an autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes is the classification wherein the patient’s body attacks itself. In this case, the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, leading to insufficient levels in the body. Previously known as “juvenile” diabetes, it is the classification more commonly identified in children and adolescents. Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes because patients need to take insulin everyday in order to maintain their insulin levels at a normal level.
- Type 2 diabetes – Other common names for Type 2 include adult-onset diabetes and insulin-resistant diabetes. Patients with Type 2 diabetes either have abnormal body reactions to insulin or their bodies do not produce enough insulin. More common than Type 1 diabetes, it affects approximately 95% of diabetes patients and occurs later in life, afflicting middle aged to elderly people.
- Prediabetes – Prediabetes is often identified before the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. This occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal levels but still not at the level officially diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes – Among the least commonly identified types of diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs during some pregnancies and passes once the pregnancy is concluded. However, women who have had gestational diabetes also tend to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes later on.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
As there are specific classifications of the disease, there are also distinctions between initial diabetes signs and symptoms. However, there are some common early warning signs patients can watch out for. Some of the most common indications are:
- Hunger and fatigue – After eating, bodies process nutrients and transform them into glucose that cells then use for energy. However, insulin is crucial for cells to be able to take in glucose. Irregular insulin levels inhibit this process and make it difficult for bodies to produce energy, resulting in diabetes patients feeling hungrier and more fatigued than most people.
- Feeling thirstier and urinating more often – On average, most people pee from four to seven times within the day. For diabetes patients, this occurs more often because of the way their bodies process glucose. This causes them to produce more urine, causing them to urinate and lose fluids more often. This causes a cycle wherein they tend to drink more to satiate their thirst and go to the bathroom more often, repeatedly.
- Dry mouth and itchy skin – In relation to the previous point, most diabetes patients experience dry mouth and itchy skin because of how much fluid their body allots to create urine. Their bodies can feel dehydrated, with a dry mouth and dry, itchy skin being an early indicator.
- Blurred vision – Because of their fluctuating fluid levels, patients with diabetes can experience swelling in the lenses of their eyes. This causes a disruption in the regular shape of their eyes, making it difficult for them to focus.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The distinct classifications of diabetes also function differently, and thus they can manifest in different ways. It is difficult to identify a main cause of diabetes because there are so many risk factors that affect a patient’s likelihood of developing it, but one way to approach the situation is to watch for symptoms. Apart from the previously mentioned early signs and symptoms, one way to determine whether or not a patient has diabetes is to assess these symptoms according to the type of diabetes they fall under.
Type 1 diabetes has two primary symptoms that patients can watch out for:
- Unexpected weight loss – Because type 1 diabetes makes it difficult for your body to get energy from the food that you eat, it will then begin burning fat and muscle for energy. This causes unexpected weight loss regardless of whether or not a patient has made changes to their diet or exercise regime.
- Nausea and vomiting – Burning fat instead of processing food for nutrients creates ketones, or substances that your body creates when you have low glucose levels. These ketones can accumulate in the patient’s blood to life-threatening levels, causing diabetic ketoacidosis. These ketones can also leave a patient feeling ill and nauseous, sometimes even causing vomiting.
Symptoms for Type 2 diabetes can manifest after glucose levels have been high for a prolonged period of time. Some common signs include:
- Yeast infections – Regardless of their gender, patients with Type 2 diabetes can get yeast infections because of their high levels of glucose. This is one of the more apparent signs of high blood sugar. Yeast infections typically thrive in areas that are warm and moist, including between the fingers and the toes, under the breasts, and in or around the genitals.
- Slow-healing sores or cuts – High blood sugar for a prolonged period of time can hinder blood flow and eventually cause damage to a patient’s nerves. As a result, it may be difficult for their bodies to heal from sores or cuts.
- Pain or numbness in your feet or legs – Nerve damage can also eventually cause pain or numbness in a patient’s extremities, especially in their feet or legs.
Warning Signs of Diabetes Complications
Because it is a chronic disease, diabetes can cause long term effects and complications on a patient’s body. Many of these can be attributed to the way both types of diabetes affect the way blood is processed and distributed throughout the body. Some of the complications that may arise from leaving diabetes undiagnosed and untreated include:
- Cardiovascular disease – Having diabetes significantly increases the risk of heart and blood vessel disease. This encompasses heart attacks, strokes, angina, and atherosclerosis.
- Neuropathy or nerve damage – Abnormal glucose levels can injure the internal walls of the capillaries that sustain nerves. This can cause numbness, burning, tingling, or pain that originates at the tips of extremities and spreads upwards.
- Nephropathy or kidney damage – Kidneys are hardworking and delicate organs that filter the blood. Because diabetes causes adverse effects to the blood, patients with diabetes typically are at a higher risk for kidney damage in the long run.
- Depression – Symptoms of depression have been found common among patients with either Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
While diabetes may cause complications in the long run, one way to effectively manage the illness is early diagnosis and treatment. Consulting with a doctor once early symptoms begin to show and getting the help you need early on can significantly lower your risk of these long-term effects. Telehealth solutions such as Eva can help you deal with these concerns more conveniently and quickly. To learn more about how Eva can help you with addressing diabetes and other health concerns, take a look at our FAQs.
When do you consult your doctor about diabetes symptoms?
It is important that once you assess your diabetes risk factors (including your age, family medical history, and other circumstances), you consult with a trained medical professional. If you are over the age of 45, setting up an appointment to get tested would also be a good preemptive measure. Some other signs that you should consult with a doctor are:
- You notice a significant change in your urinating habits
- You feel fatigued or thirsty more often
- You have wounds that take a long time to heal, or don’t heal at all
- You lose weight suddenly and very rapidly
- You feel numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
How EVA Teleconsult can help with diabetes symptoms
With EVA Teleconsult, you can begin your journey towards diagnosing and managing diabetes, no matter what type. With us, you can always expect:
- Appointments that start on time – We respect your time and commit to starting every session right at the time that you book.
- Guaranteed 30 minutes of consultation – You’ll have every opportunity to ask follow-up questions about your concerns, and we’ll never rush through a session.
- Exhaustive explanations about your concerns – We’ll make sure you have complete knowledge about your concern, so you can make the best decision for yourself and your loved ones.
While it is a widely common chronic illness, many people diagnosed with diabetes are able to manage it effectively without compromising their quality of life. The key is to approach a trusted doctor with medical expertise and seek out the best treatment for you.
Take control over your own health. Seek medical help with Eva and contact us today.