ONE million people have diabetes and have no idea.
A further 13.6million people are at risk of getting it, and should be wary of the signs to look out for.
When you’re diabetic your body can struggle to produce enough insulin (type 1) or the insulin isn’t effective (type 2).
In the UK, around 90 per cent of of adults with diabetes have type 2.
Diabetes needs treatment in order to prevent blood sugar levels being dangerously high.
But some people can go years before they are even diagnosed.
The NHS says: “Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general.”
The longer blood sugar levels remain elevated, the more chance there is for complications to arise.
This could involve almost all parts of your body, including your heart, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, nerves, gastrointestinal tract, gums, and teeth.
This week is Diabetes Week – use this full-body scan to check you are not living with signs of untreated diabetes.
If your eyes have become blurry or wavy, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new prescription – it’s a key symptom of diabetes.
High glucose can change fluid levels or cause swelling in the tissues of your eyes that help you to focus, causing distorted vision.
It is temporary and goes away once glucose levels are back to normal.
People who have had diabetes for a long time are at risk of diabetic retinopathy, which usually takes years to develop but can start doing prediabetes.
It happens because too much sugar in the blood over time blocks the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina (the back of the eye).
It could lead to loss of vision.
Dentist and clinical director at Bupa Dental Care, Dr Sarah Ramage, previously told The Sun that people with type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to have problems with their oral health than those who don’t have the condition.
“Diabetics produce less saliva, which acts to prevent attacks on tooth enamel, and the saliva may contain higher levels of sugar – increasing risk of tooth decay”, she said.
Dr Ramage said that those with the condition are at a higher risk of gum disease.
The condition can often go undetected and can be hard to spot, as signs can be brushed off as something else.
But there are signs in your mouth to watch out for.
These include gums that are swollen, red, receding, or bleed during teeth brushing.
Lose teeth, bad breath and wounds that take longer than usual to heal – such as after a dental procedure – are other signs.
Most common diabetes signs
The most common signs of diabetes are:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
Everyone has pins and needles in their feet now and again.
But be wary that tingling, pain or numbness in either the hands or feet is a symptom of diabetes, including in the early stages.
Over the long-term, people with diabetes are at more risk of foot problems due to nerve and blood vessel damage.
Redness, warmth and swelling and three signs that suggest there is nerve damage in the feet, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Over the long-term, high blood sugar levels can injure nerves throughout your body, called diabetic neuropathy, the most common of which is peripheral neuropathy.
For most diabetics, this will damage nerves in the feet and legs, and it is most noticeable at night time.
The key signs include numbness, reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes, tingling, cramps, sensitivity and serious foot problems.
Diabetic neuropathy can also affect the hands.
With peripheral neuropathy, it tends to cause symptoms such as numbness in the feet and legs first, followed by the hands and arms.
Extreme sensitivity to touch — for some people, even a bedsheet’s weight can be painful.
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, told The Sun: “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.”
Diabetes affects so many aspects of a person’s health, including their sex life.
One of the more common signs of the condition is thrush – a common yeast infection – in both men and women.
Thrush causes irritation, redness and itchiness around the genitals and white discharge (like cottage cheese).
Women can experience stinging when peeing or having sex, while men may have trouble pulling their foreskin back.
Dr Agnieszka Nalewczynska, consultant gynaecologist working with RegenLab, added: “Women with diabetes are also more prone to get urinary tract infections on a regular basis (UTIs), which can result in sex becoming more painful and uncomfortable.”
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