It is possible to have diabetes with only very mild symptoms or without developing any symptoms at all. Such cases can leave some people with diabetes unaware of the condition and undiagnosed. This happens in around half of people with type 2 diabetes.
The most common signs and symptoms of diabetes are:
Have you been going to the bathroom to urinate more often recently? Do you notice that you spend most of the day going to the toilet? When there is too much glucose (sugar) in your blood you will urinate more often.
If your insulin is ineffective, or not there at all, your kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood. The kidneys will take water from your blood in order to dilute the glucose – which in turn fills up your bladder.
If you are urinating more than usual, you will need to replace that lost liquid. You will be drinking more than usual. Have you been drinking more than usual lately?
As the insulin in your blood is not working properly, or is not there at all, and your cells are not getting their energy, your body may react by trying to find more energy – food. You will become hungry.
This might be the result of the above symptom (intense hunger).
Unusual weight loss
This is more common among people with Diabetes Type 1. As your body is not making insulin it will seek out another energy source (the cells aren’t getting glucose). Muscle tissue and fat will be broken down for energy. As Type 1 is of a more sudden onset and Type 2 is much more gradual, weight loss is more noticeable with Type 1.
If your insulin is not working properly, or is not there at all, glucose will not be entering your cells and providing them with energy. This will make you feel tired and listless.
Irritability can be due to your lack of energy.
This can be caused by tissue being pulled from your eye lenses. This affects your eyes’ ability to focus. With proper treatment this can be treated. There are severe cases where blindness or prolonged vision problems can occur.
Cuts and bruises don’t heal properly or quickly
Do you find cuts and bruises take a much longer time than usual to heal? When there is more sugar (glucose) in your body, its ability to heal can be undermined.
More skin and/or yeast infections
When there is more sugar in your body, its ability to recover from infections is affected. Women with diabetes find it especially difficult to recover from bladder and vaginal infections.
A feeling of itchiness on your skin is sometimes a symptom of diabetes.
Gums are red and/or swollen – Gums pull away from teeth
If your gums are tender, red and/or swollen this could be a sign of diabetes. Your teeth could become loose as the gums pull away from them.
Frequent gum disease/infection
As well as the previous gum symptoms, you may experience more frequent gum disease and/or gum infections.
Sexual dysfunction among men
If you are over 50 and experience frequent or constant sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction), it could be a symptom of diabetes.
Numbness or tingling, especially in your feet and hands
If there is too much sugar in your body your nerves could become damaged, as could the tiny blood vessels that feed those nerves. You may experience tingling and/or numbness in your hands and feet.
Controlling diabetes – treatment is effective and important
All types of diabetes are treatable. Diabetes type 1 lasts a lifetime, there is no known cure. Type 2 usually lasts a lifetime, however, some people have managed to get rid of their symptoms without medication, through a combination of exercise, diet and body weight control.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Arizona in Scottsdale showed that gastric bypass surgery can reverse type 2 diabetes in a high proportion of patients. They added that within three to five years the disease recurs in approximately 21% of them. Yessica Ramos, MD., said “The recurrence rate was mainly influenced by a longstanding history of Type 2 diabetes before the surgery. This suggests that early surgical intervention in the obese, diabetic population will improve the durability of remission of Type 2 diabetes.”
Patients with type 1 are treated with regular insulin injections, as well as a special diet and exercise.
Patients with Type 2 diabetes are usually treated with tablets, exercise and a special diet, but sometimes insulin injections are also required.
If diabetes is not adequately controlled the patient has a significantly higher risk of developing complications.
Complications linked to badly controlled diabetes:
Below is a list of possible complications that can be caused by badly controlled diabetes:
- Eye complications – glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and some others.
- Foot complications – neuropathy, ulcers, and sometimes gangrene which may require that the foot be amputated
- Skin complications – people with diabetes are more susceptible to skin infections and skin disorders
- Heart problems – such as ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished
- Hypertension – common in people with diabetes, which can raise the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, heart attack and stroke
- Mental health – uncontrolled diabetes raises the risk of suffering from depression, anxiety and some other mental disorders
- Hearing loss – diabetes patients have a higher risk of developing hearing problems
- Gum disease – there is a much higher prevalence of gum disease among diabetes patients
- Gastroparesis – the muscles of the stomach stop working properly
- Ketoacidosis – a combination of ketosis and acidosis; accumulation of ketone bodies and acidity in the blood.
- Neuropathy – diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage which can lead to several different problems.
- HHNS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome) – blood glucose levels shoot up too high, and there are no ketones present in the blood or urine. It is an emergency condition.
- Nephropathy – uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to kidney disease
- PAD (peripheral arterial disease) – symptoms may include pain in the leg, tingling and sometimes problems walking properly
- Stroke – if blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels are not controlled, the risk of stroke increases significantly
- Erectile dysfunction – male impotence.
- Infections – people with badly controlled diabetes are much more susceptible to infections
- Healing of wounds – cuts and lesions take much longer to heal
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