In my journey as a diabetes conqueror, I have found very scary statistics. Diabetes is a condition that has to be addressed at the individual level and globally.
In the United States, according to the American diabetes Association, there are more than 25 million people living with diabetes. About one third of those people, are unaware that they are diabetic. There are another 79 million people who are pre-diabetic. This means that if they don’t make some healthy changes in their lives, they will develop diabetes.
The number of diabetes sufferers in Africa remains uncertain. IDF (International Diabetes Federation) estimated the figure at 7.5 million diabetic adults between 20 and 79 years of age. It is thought that this figure is now much larger.
Here are 10 early warning signs that I went through and yet I had no clue that I was becoming diabetic.
1. Increased thirst and urination.
Increased thirst and urination was occurring to me so often during the pre- diagnosis stage. I have learnt that as glucose levels in the blood rises, the kidneys attempt to filter it from the blood. The kidneys can’t keep up when there’s too much glucose. As a result the excess glucose is excreted into the urine along with fluids from the body, and as the body attempts to expel the glucose, more frequent urination can be expected. This leads to chronic dehydration and as a result I felt the urge to drink more and more.
2. Increased hunger
In order to pull glucose into your cells, your body needs to utilise insulin. If you are insulin resistant or you just have a lack of insulin, your body can’t store the glucose in your cells. The cells need this glucose for energy. This results in your body lacking the energy it needs. This leads to increased hunger as the attempt to increase calories for energy.
3. Weakness and Fatigue
Weakness and fatigue along with increased hunger, are a result of the body’s inability to properly utilise energy from glucose stored in the body. That means the cells don’t have the proper amount of energy to function optimally. This results in fatigue and weakness.
4. Unexpected weight loss
When your body is excreting excess glucose and at the same time you are eating, it’s not storing it is energy for later. What it does is to excrete the glucose in urine and decreases the amount of calories that are being absorbed into the cells. As a result you end up losing weight because you can’t compensate in calories for what is lost.
5. Tingling or Numbness
This is known as diabetic neuropathy. It is the damage to the nerves that arises as a complication of high blood glucose levels. High blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet. When blood glucose levels are elevated it interferes with signals transmitted by nerves. Furthermore, the walls of the small blood vessels are weakened. This leads to cutting off blood supply to nerves.
6. Blurred Vision
The eyes are also extremely sensitive to the effects of high blood glucose. The lenses can swell and change shape causing your vision to suddenly become blurry.
7. Sores That Heal Slowly
According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, receptors that recognise infection become blind when glucose levels blood rise. The high glucose effectively inhibits the normal working process of the immune system. As a result the work of white blood cells is slowed down and along with it the normal healing process.
8. Frequent Infections
Frequent infections can be another symptom brought about by the increased blood glucose levels. A slowed immune response can lead you to an increased likelihood of frequent infections than those infections that are with a person in stable or normal blood glucose levels.
9. Dry, Itchy or Scaly Skin
Our body is made up of anywhere from 50% to 78% water and due to the frequent urination and perpetual state of thirst, the body is literally drying out. That includes our skin. Therefore, dry, itchy or scaly skin is a common symptom of diabetes as your kidneys excrete more water out of your tissues.
Feeling irritated, hunger and low on energy can all be attributed to the expelling of energy supposed for storage in the cells. This results in an overall bad feeling and irritability of being in a perpetual state of lost energy.