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The Subtle Signs of Diabetes

FROM THE MAYO CLINIC

Early symptoms of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, can be subtle or seemingly harmless — if you have symptoms at all. Over time, however, you may develop diabetes complications, even if you haven’t had diabetes symptoms.

In the United States alone, nearly 7 million people have undiagnosed diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. But you don’t need to become a statistic. Understanding possible diabetes symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment — and a lifetime of better health. If you’re experiencing any of the following diabetes signs and symptoms, see your doctor.

EXCESSIVE THIRST AND INCREASED URINATION

These are classic diabetes symptoms. When you have diabetes, excess sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood. Your kidneys are forced to work overtime to filter and absorb the excess sugar. If your kidneys can’t keep up, the excess sugar is excreted into your urine along with fluids drawn from your tissues. This triggers more frequent urination, which may leave you dehydrated. As you drink more fluids to quench your thirst, you’ll urinate even more.

FATIGUE

You may feel fatigued. Many factors can contribute to this. They include dehydration from increased urination and your body’s inability to function properly, since it’s less able to use sugar for energy needs.

WEIGHT LOSS

Weight fluctuations also fall under the umbrella of possible diabetes signs and symptoms. When you lose sugar through frequent urination, you also lose calories. At the same time, diabetes may keep the sugar from your food from reaching your cells — leading to constant hunger. The combined effect is potentially rapid weight loss, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.

BLURRED VISION

Diabetes symptoms sometimes involve your vision. High levels of blood sugar pull fluid from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes. This affects your ability to focus.Left untreated, diabetes can cause new blood vessels to form in your retina — the back part of your eye — and damage established vessels. For most people, these early changes do not cause vision problems. However, if these changes progress undetected, they can lead to vision loss and blindness.

SLOW-HEALING SORES OR FREQUENT INFECTIONS

Doctors and people with diabetes have observed that infections seem more common if you have diabetes. Research in this area, however, has not proved whether this is entirely true, nor why. It may be that high levels of blood sugar impair your body’s natural healing process and your ability to fight infections. For women, bladder and vaginal infections are especially common.

TINGLING HANDS AND FEET

Excess sugar in your blood can lead to nerve damage. You may notice tingling and loss of sensation in your hands and feet, as well as burning pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet.

RED, SWOLLEN, TENDER GUMS

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