According to the CDC, more than 9 percent of Americans have diabetes. The disease is becoming increasingly common, with 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes each year.
High blood sugar can lead to serious complications such as heart failure and stroke. However, diabetes can be managed with prescription medications, diet, and exercise to help you live a normal, healthy life.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the level of sugar in the blood (blood glucose) is too high, which can be due to insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) or the inability to produce insulin (type 1 diabetes).
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood. In contrast, type 2 diabetes can occur at any age, but is more common in the elderly.
Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to develop into type 2 diabetes. There are changes you can make to reduce the chances of the disease progressing to type 2 diabetes.
First symptoms of diabetes
- Frequent urination
When blood sugar levels rise, the kidneys excrete excess blood sugar, causing frequent urination. One of the first symptoms of diabetes is frequent urination, which can wake you up with enough urgency to go to the bathroom during sleep.
- Increased thirst
As your kidneys work overtime and urinate more often, valuable fluids are flushed out of your cells. Frequent urination can make you feel thirsty all the time.
When your blood sugar is high, your body works hard to get rid of the excess sugar. Not only does this process harm your body, it also changes the way your body uses glucose for energy. Too much blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can cause fatigue, among other symptoms. Additionally, dehydration from frequent urination is a common cause of fatigue in diabetics.
- Blurred vision
High blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the eye, causing the lens to swell, resulting in vision loss. As your blood sugar levels rise and fall, your vision may become normal or worse.
- Increased hunger
When your blood sugar is high, your body actively seeks to eliminate it. As your body excretes a lot of glucose from food, the feeling of hunger increases.
- Unreasonable weight loss
When excess glucose is released, you’re losing your biggest source of energy, and when your body can’t use glucose for energy, it starts burning fat and muscle and losing weight. Unexplained weight loss is considered significant at 10 pounds or 5% of total body weight.
- Longer healing of cuts and wounds
In the same way that damaged eye tissue can cause vision loss, damaged blood vessels also impair blood circulation. Because of this, it is difficult for blood to reach the affected area, and minor cuts and wounds can take weeks or months to heal. This slow healing makes unhealed cuts and wounds susceptible to infection, increasing the risk of amputation.