Taken from data by WHO, an estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence (age-standardized) of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% in the adult population. It caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012. Higher-than-optimal blood glucose caused an additional 2.2 million deaths, by increasing the risks of cardiovascular and other diseases. Forty-three percent of these 3.7 million deaths occur before the age of 70 years. Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in many parts of the body and can increase the overall risk of dying prematurely. Possible complications include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation, vision loss and nerve damage. In pregnancy, poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of fetal death and other complications.
Early detection and knowledge of the warning signs is our greatest weapon against the disease and its complications. Sometimes the symptoms may be obvious and sometimes they are not.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus:
These symptoms may occur suddenly and must receive immediate medical attention :
1. Excessive thirst (polydipsia)
2. Frequent urination (polyuria), sometimes exhibited by return of bedwetting in previously trained children (urination in large quantities day and night)
3. Sudden vision changes
4. A sweet, fruity odor may be present in urine, on one’s breath/body (caused by high amounts of ketones in the blood and/or urine)
5. Extreme hunger / increased appetite (polyphagia)
6. Rapid or unexplained weight loss
7. Fatigue (weak and tired)
8. Irritability and mood changes
9. Drowsiness, lethargy
10. Nausea or vomiting
11. Abdominal pain
12. Rapid, hard breathing (heavy, labored)
13. Confusion, Unconsciousness
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus:
These symptoms occur gradually, however, they must receive immediate medical attention.
1. Unexplained weight loss
2. Frequent fatigue
4. Dry mouth
5. Numbness on feet
6. Repeated infections in genital areas, urinary tract, skin, and also delayed wound healing
7. Decreased vision
8. Erectile dysfunction in men
The classic symptoms of diabetes such as polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia occur commonly in type 1 diabetes, which has a rapid development of severe hyperglycemia and also in type 2 diabetes with very high levels of hyperglycemia. Severe weight loss is common only in type 1 diabetes or if type 2 diabetes remains undetected for a long period. Unexplained weight loss, fatigue and restlessness and body pain are also common signs of undetected diabetes. Symptoms that are mild or have gradual development could also remain unnoticed.
You don’t know just by your symptoms if you have diabetes. If you are categorized as at risk for diabetes (overweight, inactive, smoker, have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), you must go to the doctor. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is commonly used as the screening test. This test takes 2 hours. Your blood glucose levels are tested initially and then 2 hours after consuming a specific sweet drink.
Normal blood glucose level is lower than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L).
Blood glucose level between 140 and 199 mg/dL (7.8 and 11 mmol/L) is considered impaired glucose tolerance, or prediabetes. If you have prediabetes stage condition, you’re at risk of eventually developing type 2 diabetes. You’re also at risk of developing heart disease, even if you don’t develop diabetes.
Blood glucose level of 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher may indicate diabetes.
If the results of your glucose tolerance test indicate type 2 diabetes, your doctor may repeat the test on another day or use another blood test to confirm the diagnosis.
Your doctor might also inquire about a hemoglobin A1C check (HbA1c) / glycosylated hemoglobin, which measures your average blood sugar over the previous three months. This test shows what your blood glucose level has averaged for the past 2 or 3 months. This doesn’t require you to fast or drink anything. It is recommended for you to ask the doctor for this A1C test. You are positive said to have diabetes if your HbA1c test result is > 6.5%. It is also said to be presence of the danger of pre-diabetes if the result of HbA1c ranges between 5.7 – 6.4%.
Therefore, periodic medical check-up for you especially with such signs or risk factors for diabetes would reduce the hazards involved in having undiagnosed diabetes. It would help improve the health status of a large number of people who would be silent sufferers from the metabolic aberrations associated with diabetes.