DIABETES is a common illness which can have serious consequences.
Close to five million Brits have the condition, with millions more at risk of developing it, Diabetes UK states.
There are two different types of the illness, type 1 and type 2.
The first, the NHS says, is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
The second, is far more common and occurs when the body is not able to produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.
If left untreated, the NHS says it can cause a number of different health problems due to large amounts of glucose damaging blood vessels, nerves and organs.
Here we take a look at the key signs of diabetes, and the ones that might not always be associated with the condition.
The NHS says the key signs of both types of diabetes include:
- feeling thirsty
- peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk.
While these are the most well-known symptoms when it comes diabetes, there are also other surprising signs to look out for.
1. ITCHY BUSINESS
One surprising sign is genital itching or thrush.
Yeast infections can be common in diabetics and this is because sugar helps candida grow.
The NHS says that people who have poorly controlled diabetes may experience this.
This is often because high levels of sugar in your blood also mean high levels in other parts of your body such as in your sweat, saliva and urine.
Yeast may then grow, meaning you end up with thrush.
2. CUTS AND WOUNDS
Often if you have diabetes, then your immune system may not be able to get skin wounds and infections under control, medics at Health Partners Clinic in Bloomington, Indiana, say.
“High blood sugar can change the chemistry of your blood in ways that reduce your body’s defenses and makes your immune system work slower,” they added.
This, in turn, they said, means that cuts and wounds will take longer to heal.
For many diabetics this will often result in foot ulcers, and your doctor will be able to help you with treatment for this.
3. BLURRY EYESIGHT
Blurry vision is also a common ailment in people with diabetes.
Experts at John Hopkins Medicine said that diabetes can damage the macula.
This is the centre of the retina that provides you with straight vision.
If you have poorly controlled diabetes then you may have leaky blood vessels, which can result in blurred or distorted vision.
4. Skin disorders
Skin disorders are frequent among diabetics due to high blood sugar levels, which impact your blood vessels and nerves.
More commonly seen in those before a diagnosis is a condition known as acanthosis nigricans (AN).
It is characterised by a dark band of velvety skin that usually appears on the back of the neck.
Dr Julietta Gusarova, a cosmetic doctor working with RegenLab, said: “Acanthosis nigricans can also be discovered in various parts of the body where the skin folds, such as the palms, armpits, or groyne, in many people.
“In addition to the visible colouring associated with the disorder, some people say their skin feels thicker.”
Acanthosis nigricans can be treated by going to the root problem – diabetes.
5. Hair loss
One of the more subtle symptoms of the condition could be hair loss, said Barbie Cervoni, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.
“It is thought that certain problems caused by diabetes may result in hair loss, including an immune system disorder called alopecia areata, poor circulation, and high blood sugar.”
Dr Steven Laitner, Head of Population Health at Aide Health said many people who develop diabetes have other long term conditions too and recognising symptoms of diabetes can be even more difficult when you are struggling with other chronic disease.
He added: ” Understanding what is “normal for you” can help you spot changes to your health and wellbeing more easily and also make sure you don’t miss those important clinical reviews and monitoring which are essential to spot deterioration or development of new conditions.
“It is important to get tested if you have symptoms or risk factors or an associated condition.”
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