Do you know that over 30 million people suffer from diabetes in the US? And out of which, about 7 million are undiagnosed? Diabetes is a condition that develops and increases gradually if not taken care of.
There are some obvious signs that may get your attention like extreme fatigue, being thirsty often, blurred vision and constant headaches. However, there are some unsuspecting signs and symptoms that may not get your attention right away. When ignored, it will lead to a weak immune system and a slow response to wound healing.
Have you been experiencing bad breath and gum disease? What about constantly feeling itchy and irritable? Today we will be talking about some unusual signs of diabetes that you should be aware of.
Gum Disease and Bad Breath
This has to be one of the least expected signs of high blood sugar. While plaque and unhealthy dental hygiene are the two primary causes for halitosis or bad breath, diabetes should not be ruled out. If your breath has been smelling kinda funky lately then maybe it is time for you to get your blood sugar checked.
High blood sugar means high glucose content in the saliva. This glucose serves as a grand feast for the bacteria present in between the teeth and inside the mouth. Another reason is that high blood sugar makes your body unable to fight off infections. So, it gets difficult to fight the ever-worsening gum disease.
Lightheadedness or dizziness is a common symptom for a plethora of health conditions. As blood sugar rises the body begins its attempt to eliminate the excess glucose content in the blood through excessive urination. Low levels of fluid in the body lead to lightheadedness because without the right amount of water, your brain struggles to function properly.
While dizziness can be an indication of vertigo, high or low blood pressure, hyperventilations or something else, medical care should be sought in such cases. Usually, dizziness is temporary however if you’ve been experiencing regular lightheadedness then it could be because of high blood sugar.
People with high blood sugar tend to be more susceptible to common infections like flu and pneumonia. They are also at high risk for developing infections in the ear, urinary tract, sinuses and nose. This happens due to high amounts of glucose in the body. It attacks the immune system and inhibits the body’s ability to produce infection fighting white blood cells.
Severe diabetes also causes a buildup in the blood vessels which affects blood flow. Due to poor blood supply, the body’s ability to heal wounds is lowered. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes then getting a flu shot and proper vaccinations will be of great help especially during flu season.
Darker skin on the neck
Often confused with skin disease, the development of dark patches around the neck, armpits, elbows and knees is actually a skin pigmentation issue that is a result of pre-diabetes.
Dark skin pigmentation or acanthosis is one of the most notable signs of untreated high blood sugar. These dark patches of skin have a velvety and thick texture that sometimes feel itchy. Too much insulin in the bloodstream is the main cause for this skin condition. It triggers rapid reproduction in skin cells. A proper diet, good exercise every day and blood sugar control methods can reverse this condition.
Irritability and mood swings
Changes in blood sugar levels have a direct impact on mood and mental status. Once the blood sugar is within normal range, these symptoms go away. Fluctuating blood glucose results in rapid changes in mood. Low blood sugar will make you feel kind of euphoric and even kind of drunk. While on the other hand, when it shoots up, it may lead to confusion and even epileptic episodes.
Diabetes also leads to depression, anxiety and stress. While these symptoms cannot be obvious enough for doctors to diagnose diabetes, they can have a negative impact on quality of life.
Unexplained weight loss
Unintentional weight loss can be caused by a number of things and is usually a sign of some underlying medical condition. These can be anything from diabetes and cancer to Addison’s disease and tuberculosis or something else.
In case of weight loss triggered by diabetes, insufficient insulin prevents the body from extracting glucose from the blood cells and utilising it as energy. As a result, your body starts burning fat and muscles, which causes a major reduction in body weight. If you notice your body weight getting lower or you’ve gained more than 4 kgs then your diabetes is likely going unnoticed.
Dry, itchy skin
Did you know that diabetes can lead to nerve damage? Dry, itchy skin is a common condition for people with diabetes as a result of nerve damage. If your skin has been feeling dry, irritated and itchy in a localized region, then this may also develop into a skin infection.
But how is irritated skin related to high blood sugar? Prior to diabetes-related nerve damage, cytokine levels in the blood rise. These are responsible for inflammation, particularly around the hands and feet. Being inflammatory in nature, these substances cause persistent itching. Avoiding hot baths and applying harsh chemical-filled moisturizers, especially in between fingers and toes could give you some relief.
Nausea can be triggered by several factors like medication, gastroparesis and pancreatitis. However, one of the most overlooked factors is diabetes. Both low and high blood sugar can cause nausea. If these symptoms are worsening, it can result in several health complications including insulin shock. To avoid all these complications, it is important to follow a strict meal plan, closely monitor blood sugar and indulge in various outdoor activities.
A diabetic stomach is something you should keep a keen eye on. If this nauseous feeling sticks around then it could be something serious. Nausea can also mean there’s something wrong with your kidneys.
Dry mouth means exactly what it sounds like. Saliva helps control bacteria levels and washes away the acid present around the teeth and gums. If you’ve been reaching for your water more than usual then there’s obviously some lack of moisture in your mouth – clinically known as xerostomia.
Cracks in the corners of the lips, irritation in the corner of the mouth and inflammation of gums or gingivitis are some common symptoms of dry mouth you should look out for. Although this condition can happen to anyone, it is mostly common among people with type 1 and 2 diabetes. The reason behind this remains a mystery but high blood sugar is to be blamed.
Pain in limbs
Leg pain, cramps or pain in the limbs is often ignored or not taken seriously. But if you have been struggling with high blood sugar then pain in your limbs can be cause for concern. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where the nerves get damaged as a result of unregulated or constant high blood sugar.
Leg pain or cramps is a result of this neuropathy. Some people may also experience numbness, tingling or pain and burning sensations either in their feet or legs. Figuring out the link between these bouts of limb pain and diabetes is crucial otherwise there may be fear of losing a foot or possibly a leg in the worst-case scenario.
Do you know that 1 in 12 men and 1 in 30 women suffer from this heart condition? Chest pain is a definite sign of some underlying medical condition. Diabetes or not, you must get yourself checked out if you’ve been experiencing chest pain.
In case of high blood sugar, blood vessels get plagued, and the flow into the organ gets interrupted. This condition is also known as angina and one of its causes is high blood sugar. In short, the longer diabetes goes unnoticed, the higher the chances of silently developing conditions for stroke.
High blood sugar has been linked to eye problems like blurry vision, cataracts and glaucoma. When blood sugar spikes up, the eye lenses swell up causing the vision to blur out. With proper medication and blood sugar control, these vision problems can be solved in a matter of months.
Some other lesser-known vision-related problems due to diabetes may also include eye pain, a halo around lights, headaches and watery eyes.
It is said time and again not to ignore the signs of high blood glucose. Doing so will obviously worsen the situation and may impair the normal functioning of organs. There are more ways for you to take control of your diabetic condition. Eat healthy foods to deal with high blood sugar or check out for these unusual signs that could mean you are diabetic.