We have a dangerous love-hate relationship with sugar: In proper amounts, blood glucose is a form of sugar we need to fuel our bodies, but because it is in so many foods we eat, too much of it can lead to hyperglycemia and eventually diabetes. Normally, when we eat, our body creates the hormone insulin from our pancreas to regulate the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. However, if you can’t produce enough of it or your body develops a resistance to it, diabetes can lead to lasting damage to many different parts of the body.
In 2019 alone, diabetes led to 1.5 million deaths worldwide, affecting nearly 50% of those people under 70. Preventing the complications of diabetes is important for your health, so to help you look for early signs of this condition, let’s examine the causes of diabetes, the symptoms of which you should be aware, and some methods of prevention and treatment.
If you live in the Little River, South Carolina area and you’re dealing with the early signs of diabetes or other chronic conditions, Dr. Rogers Walker and his medical team at Walker Urgent & Family Care can get you the help you need.
Causes of diabetes
As mentioned previously, insulin regulates the amount of blood sugar in your body, eliminating what isn’t necessary while your body absorbs the necessary nutrients for fuel to keep things running. High blood glucose can result from several factors, including insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, pancreatic damage, genetic mutation (more common in gestational diabetes), and autoimmune diseases.
Left untreated, diabetes can go on to do damage to your liver, kidneys, eyes, nerves, and your cardiovascular system. It can also lead to problems with skin conditions, sexual dysfunction, hearing loss, and gastroparesis.
Signs to look out for
These are some early signs to look for if you think you have diabetes:
1. Weight changes
Since diabetes affects the amount of insulin your body gets, it isn’t getting enough energy from its normal source. As a result, it may turn to breaking down fat energy stores, leading to unexplained changes in your weight.
2. Increased hunger and thirst
The same problems mentioned above can also affect your hunger and thirst because you aren’t getting enough energy from the food you eat, leading to polyphagia (increased hunger), increased thirst, or xerostomia (dry mouth).
3. Numbness and pain in your feet
This is a form of diabetic neuropathy, where the condition is damaging the nerves in your legs and feet. Not everyone has these symptoms, but unexplained numbness, tingling, and pain in this area can mean diabetes.
4. Frequent urination
This condition also affects your kidneys, which may affect the frequency to go to the bathroom. It’s called polyuria and can mean relieving yourself every couple of hours all night. In advanced stages of diabetes, it can also have a sweet smell, because your body isn’t processing the blood glucose properly.
Not every person will deal with all of these signs in the early stages, but if you have these and other symptoms like blurred vision, frequent yeast and urinary tract infections, and oral health problems, you should get tested for diabetes.
Prevention and treatment
Some basic changes you can make to manage diabetes symptoms include making dietary changes (reducing sugary foods, saturated fats, and carbohydrates) and increasing the amount of physical activity to help reduce weight and lower your blood sugar. In the early stages, this will be the most important first step to getting insulin production and blood sugar in balance with one another. You will also need to monitor your blood sugar, and your doctor will offer suggestions on ways to accomplish this.
Insulin therapy is a common method of helping to balance blood sugar problems, and other medications can be used to help your pancreas or block the intestinal enzymes that break down glucose to slow its effects.
Diabetes can do a lot of damage to you over time, so catching it early is the best way to keep it from getting that chance. Make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care today to keep diabetes from affecting your quality of life.