Diabetes mellitus or diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels. The condition occurs because the pancreas cannot produce enough of the hormone that balances blood sugar or because the cells are unable to respond to the hormone the body releases to control it. At present, there is no cure for diabetes. People with this disorder can only undergo treatment to prevent further complications associated with diabetes. Early detection is always key. It enables people to take quick and appropriate action to ensure the situation does not worsen and complications do not develop. To detect the onset of diabetes as early as possible, doctors and at-risk individuals can watch for certain signs and symptoms.
Diabetes makes blood sugar rise to abnormally high levels, which forces the kidneys to work harder to eliminate excess sugar. The body produces excess urine when the kidneys are overworked, leading to frequent urination. This sign can also trigger more serious problems such as kidney damage and eventual kidney failure if ignored for too long. Urinating too often is a key indicator of diabetes and requires quick intervention.
When a person frequently urinates, one side effect is excessive loss of fluids. The problem becomes worse when a person does not drink enough, as well, and can ultimately lead to dehydration. This symptom can cause others, such as dizziness, dry throat, fainting, and fatigue. Dark urine, which indicates high concentrations of waste products aside from water, can point to dehydration. The human body requires sufficient fluids to stay healthy, and a lack of liquids can have dangerous repercussions.
When a person suffers from dehydration because of poor fluid intake and frequent urination, important organs within the body are deprived of necessary fluids. Lack of sufficient fluid in the eyes will cause vision to deteriorate slowly. The eyes will also lose their ability to focus and vision will become blurry. If a person fails to control their blood sugar levels, the blood vessels near the eyes may become damaged, causing vision problems. In some cases, the individual may lose partial or total sight.
Sugar utilization is poor when there is a lack of necessary hormones in the body. But the body still needs energy and will start to break down fat and muscles to meet its needs. This can trigger weight loss in people with diabetes, without another explanation. If muscles and fat continue to break down and are ignored, a person may suffer from ketoacidosis, which occurs when the fat breakdown causes the release of ketones, making the blood more acidic.
Diabetes significantly changes metabolism. The body needs sugar to supply the necessary energy to perform daily tasks, but the inability of cells to use sugar appropriately has many serious side effects. When blood glucose levels are too high, the substance cannot enter the cells. This occurs because of hormone resistance, leading to an inability to convert food into energy. A person then feels hungrier in response to this lack of energy. Frequent hunger and general signs of weaknesses are significant warning signs of diabetes.
Fatigue occurs when a person has either high or low blood sugar. If the blood sugar is too high but it can't enter cells, the person will feel groggy and lethargic. If blood sugar is low, fatigue is also common. Hunger can also contribute to additional fatigue. People who do not drink enough fluids will feel more dehydrated and tired. Constant fatigue and tiredness alone do not usually indicate diabetes -- rather, these symptoms will occur along with others. Blood glucose testing can indicate whether high or low blood sugar is the cause of a patient's fatigue.
High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. Sometimes, this damage is not reversible, and can also damage the arteries that carry blood to the legs and feet. In some instances, amputation of a limb may become necessary when the artery is severely damaged. Burning sensations in the limbs is a dangerous symptom, and anyone experiencing this sensation, or pain or signs of infection in a limb, should seek immediate medical attention. Quick intervention can prevent serious consequences such as amputation.
When diabetes is present, the body is less able to defend against harmful germs and bacteria because it possesses a weaker immune system. Since bacteria usually enter through the mouth, infections may start there and spread to the whole body. Diabetes may cause oral health problems and even tooth loss in extreme cases. Some early signs of larger issues include swollen gums and pain, jaw bone deterioration, and general poor dental health.
Diabetes harms overall immunity, which increases a person's chance of infection. Science has yet to explain the reasons for the effects of diabetes on the immune system, but people with the condition often experience urinary tract and dental infections. Vaginal infections are also common in women. If a person suffers from constant infections with no explanation, they may want to speak to their doctor about getting tested for diabetes.
In addition to affecting the immune system, diabetes makes it more difficult for the body to heal and slows recovery times because the body is less capable of repairing itself. Not enough conclusive evidence is available to explain how diabetes is related to healing, but the medical consensus is that high blood sugar slows the healing process. People with diabetes often find their wounds and infections fail to heal in the expected time, or sufficiently.
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