10 Surprising Symptoms Of Diabetes
Detecting diabetes can be difficult—one-third of people with type-2 diabetes don't have any symptoms. That's why it's important to have routine screenings. But what can indicate diabetes might surprise you.
Diabetes Symptoms: Head
Dizziness Though often attributed to high or low blood sugar, feelings of dizziness and instability in diabetics are also caused by problems in the inner ear, the bodies balance control center, A 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine study found that people with diabetes are 70 percent more likely to have inner ear-related balance issues than the general population. The risk of falling was 12 times higher in study participants who reported dizziness.
IrritabilityIn an American Diabetes Association poll, more than 4,000 diabetes patients were asked to report all symptoms they experienced within the past year. Just over 20 percent of respondents reported feeling irritable. Unpleasant mood is caused by low blood sugar, which leaves the body and brain energy-starved. Though high blood sugar leads to a diabetes diagnosis, blood sugar can plummet if diabetics skip meals, drink alcohol, or eat at irregular times.
FatigueA study published in the British Medical Journal found that 67 percent of people with diabetes reported feeling lethargic prior to their diagnosis. This is due tothe high blood sugar that occurs when glucose levels are unregulated by insulin. Researchers from Scotland found that patients report feeling 16 percent less energized when their blood sugar is high compared to when their blood sugar is normal.
Excessive ThirstConstant thirst, a condition known as polydipsia, is one of the most telltale signs of diabetes. Research has shown that roughly 65 percent of people have polydipsia before they're diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes Symptoms: Eyes
Blurred Vision or Poor EyesightUndiagnosed diabetes leads to high blood glucose levels, which cause your body's blood vessels to constrict. The tiny blood vessels in your eyes often break under the pressure, and new blood vessels grow in their place. Though it sounds like a good thing, it's not: The new vessels can leak blood, blocking vision or forming scar tissue that distorts it. This is called diabetic retinopathy. According to a study in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults. And 20 percent of people already have retinopathy by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes Symptoms: Stomach
Insatiable Hunger and Excessive EatingPolyphagia is a condition characterized by an incessant desire to eat and an inability to feel satiated after eating. In diabetics, this condition is caused by the body's inability to absorb blood glucose as it uses it as energy. Since insulin doesn't deliver glucose to the cells, the body reacts by feeling starved and signales itself to ingest more food. An American Diabetes Association poll reported that roughly 1 in 10 people with diabetes experiences extreme hunger.
Unexpected Weight LossThough it's not the most common symptom—only 5 percent of diabetics report it—unusual weight loss can indicate type 1 diabetes. Much like insatiable hunger, it's caused by the body's lack of insulin production and subsequent inability to use glucose as energy. Since energy from foods is rendered useless, it is expelled through the urine. The body starts breaking down fat to power itself. As those backup fat deposits are used up, you lose weight.
Diabetes Symptoms: Groin
Erectile DysfunctionMore that 80 percent of diabetic men have trouble getting it up, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. John Hopkins University researchers reported that a type of sugar found in the blood of diabetics prevents the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps form erections by increasing blood flow to the penis and relaxing the organ's smooth muscle tissue.
Frequent UrinationCan't stop running to the bathroom? Frequent urination often occurs in diabetics because the body tries to expel excess blood gliucose. This is the most common in people who have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes (because blood glucose levels are high), and usually stoips when blood sugar is controlled with insulin or medication. A German study published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism found that 94 percent of patients reported frequent urination before being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes Symptoms: Hands, Legs, and Feet
Pain, Tingling, or NumbnessIf your hands, feet, or legs feel like they're always asleep, it's likely peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage caused by high blood sugar. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimate that more than 60 percent of diabetics have neuropathy.