In her blog on this site, Dr. Maureen Clement reports that she often diagnoses people with diabetes who have unknowingly had the condition for five years or more.
But how do you know if diabetes has crept up on you? Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors and possible symptoms.
Risk factors for diabetes
Type 2 diabetes often occurs before any symptoms are displayed. This makes it important to understand whether you are at high risk for the condition. If you know diabetes is a risk, you can discuss a plan of action with your healthcare professional to stay alert for warning signs.
People at high risk for type 2 diabetes include:
- Individuals with close family members with the condition.
- Members of certain ethnic groups, including Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, Hispanic and African groups.
- Those who are overweight.
- Individuals with diabetes-related health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Women who had gestational diabetes or who delivered a baby over nine pounds.
If you suspect you may be at risk for diabetes, check out our article on this site Am I at risk for type 2 diabetes?
You can also check out your risk factors by taking this important CANRISK questionnaire. If you believe you are at risk, talk to your healthcare professional. You can take a simple test to show if you need further checking for diabetes.
Diabetes may show no signs
Many people with type 2 diabetes show no symptoms until the condition has existed for a while. In some cases, it may take years for symptoms to arise, even though diabetes may be causing damage to the body. Typical complications can include eye disease or nerve disease from the effects of high blood glucose.
The following chart shows the relation between blood glucose levels and likely symptoms. You can see how easy it is to miss the signs of diabetes, even when blood sugar levels are out of whack.
Symptoms of diabetes
Diabetes can include the following symptoms:
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight gain or loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Recurring infections
- Slow healing cuts and bruises
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
Dr. Clement reports that recurrent yeast or fungal infections can also indicate the condition.
However, it is important to keep in mind that in many cases, diabetes shows no symptoms at all. To make it even harder to diagnose, the first signs for seniors may be confusions, falls or incontinence. These issues are frequently dismissed as being due to old age.
Want to find out more about diabetes? Check out the Diabetes Overview section of this website.