According to the CDC, 30.3 million Americans have type 2 diabetes – almost 10% of the population – and a further 84.1 million have prediabetes, which can lead to diabetes if untreated. Many people with prediabetes and diabetes do not know they have these conditions; however, treatment is essential to avoid serious, life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of Prediabetes and Diabetes
If you need to pee more often than usual, especially at night, it could be diabetes. Diabetes increases urination because the body tries to filter excess blood sugar out through the kidneys.
This symptom goes together with increased urination. After all, all that water has to come from somewhere. As the body tries to flush out excess sugar, it can cause dehydration and increased thirst. For many people, dramatic thirst is the first sign that they may have diabetes.
Just as cars run on gasoline, our bodies run on sugar (glucose). Normally, glucose is delivered to our cells by our bloodstream. In diabetes, the body can no longer process glucose efficiently, and as a result, sugar has a hard time moving out of the bloodstream and into cells. Because the cells are not getting energy in glucose, people with diabetes may feel constantly hungry.
As explained above, in diabetes, sugar in the blood has a hard time entering the cells, burning for energy. As a result, people with diabetes may experience deep fatigue and exhaustion.
People with diabetes are prone to yeast infections (thrush), which can cause itching, redness, and burning, as well as white patches or discharge from mucus membranes. Diabetes encourages yeast infections in two ways. First, yeast feeds on sugars, so high blood sugar can cause infections, and secondly, diabetes weakens the immune system, making infections harder to fight.
Diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels throughout the body, reducing blood circulation. Our blood contains special immune system cells that fight infection, and our blood vessels are the highway through which these cells travel.
When blood circulation is reduced, it is easy for infections to take hold. People with diabetes may find that cuts, blisters, and other wounds heal very slowly. In some cases, infections progress to the point where surgery or even amputation is required.
Some of the blood vessels that are damaged by diabetes are in the eyes. When these small blood vessels are damaged, blurry vision results. In the early stages of diabetes, blurry vision may come and go. If diabetes is left untreated, damage to the eyes and vision loss can become permanent.
If you have any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor right away. Lifestyle changes and medication can treat type 2 diabetes and help prevent serious complications.
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