Sometimes the hustle and bustle of life distract us so much that we can’t see the signs our bodies give us about the condition of our health, especially with diseases like diabetes at an all-time high in this country. I know this to be true because there have been times that I’ve worn myself down by ignoring what my body was trying to tell me and I’d become sick for weeks at a time. In the midst of getting things done and being a “boss” too many people let their health decline; sometimes to the point of no return.
I have been dealing with a diabetic mother for a long time now. There are good days and not so good days. I can gauge the seriousness of her condition daily based on the signs, but it was not always like that. When she was first diagnosed with the autoimmune disease (type 2 diabetes) about 12 years ago, there were a lot of scary trips to the hospital and a lot of days not knowing what to expect next. Take it from me that it’s true you become a kind of “expert” about a disease when faced with it personally. That’s why knowing what to look for is so important. It can literally be the difference between life and death.
So here are some tips on knowing the signs of type 2 diabetes so that you can better manage, maintain and deal with it.
Know Your Family History
This is a key component of knowing the signs. Due to genes, people are predisposed for certain types of diseases, just like they can be predisposed for certain body types. Having an understanding of where the disease falls in your family, if at all, is a great start because it will give you a heads-up, so to speak. It will also enable you to plan better and can be the beginning of a health plan saves you from type 2 diabetes and maximizes your life.
Sudden Weight Loss Isn’t A Good Thing
I know that weight loss without much effort is what most people want in life, but it can be a sign that something is wrong. Most folks may naturally think of cancer or some other kind of terminal ailment, but things are not always that drastic right off the bat. Sudden weight loss can be a sign of diabetes because the lack of proper insulin production in the body prevents it from getting the glucose it needs. The body then starts to burn fat and muscle for energy and that can lead to drastic weight loss. When my mother was first diagnosed with diabetes, she weighed about 160 lbs. During the times over the years when she didn’t take care of herself, she has gotten down to as low as 89 lbs.
Frequent Trips to the Toilet Throughout the Day
If you haven’t consciously increased your water intake, but are experiencing the need to urinate often throughout the day, you may be pre-diabetic or have the full-blown issue and not know it. Excessive urination is considered a classic diabetic symptom. Without the proper filtering of glucose, it builds up in your blood causing your kidneys to work harder. They flush out the extra sugar into the urine, which results in more production and thus, more trips to the bathroom.
You Are Tired More Often
A clear sign that you may have developed type 2 diabetes is fatigue. If you get enough sleep, usually the normal eight or so hours a night, and wake up tired or feeling like you need to go back to sleep, that should raise a red flag that something is not right. Ongoing fatigue is a symptom that folks shrug off as stress or not getting enough rest, but for the person at-risk for the disease, it is so much more. When this happens, the food you’re eating is not converting energy the way it needs to in your body and that means it’s not being used by your cells as intended. Pretty much, you’re not getting the fuel you need to keep yourself going from day to day because your sugar levels are elevated.
A Sudden Need for Glasses Due to Blurry Vision
Another big sign is blurry vision. This happens when, during the early stages of diabetes, the eyes have trouble focusing because of glucose build up that changes its shape temporarily. Once your sugar levels have stabilized, your sight will adjust, but it can still be a frightening thing because the level of blurriness differs from person to person.
Knowledge is the thing that will help you better prepare and react to situations. Knowing the signs of type 2 diabetes is paramount to controlling and hopefully, eliminating the disease in the event you’re diagnosed with it.
The same factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase the risk of developing prediabetes. These factors include:
- Weight. Being overweight is a primary risk factor for prediabetes. The more fatty tissue you have — especially inside and between the muscle and skin around your abdomen — the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
- Waist size. A large waist size can indicate insulin resistance. The risk of insulin resistance goes up for men with waists larger than 40 inches and for women with waists larger than 35 inches.
- Dietary patterns. Eating red meat and processed meat, and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, is associated with a higher risk of prediabetes. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and olive oil is associated with a lower risk of prediabetes.
- Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk of prediabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Age. Although diabetes can develop at any age, the risk of prediabetes increases after age 45. This may be because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age.
- Family history. Your risk of prediabetes increases if you have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes.
- Race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders — are more likely to develop prediabetes.
- Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes while pregnant, you and your child are at higher risk of developing prediabetes. If you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms), you’re also at increased risk of prediabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. This common condition — characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity — increases women’s risk of prediabetes.
- Sleep. People with a certain sleep disorder (obstructive sleep apnea) have an increased risk of insulin resistance. People who work changing shifts or night shifts, possibly causing sleep problems, also may have an increased risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Other conditions associated with prediabetes include:
- High blood pressure
- Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol
- High levels of triglycerides — a type of fat in your blood
When these conditions occur with obesity, they are associated with insulin resistance. The combination of three or more of these conditions is often called metabolic syndrome.
The most serious consequence of prediabetes is a progression to type 2 diabetes. That’s because type 2 diabetes can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease