Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The function of insulin is to regulate the amount of sugar in our blood. Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body is unable to adequately control sugar levels in the blood. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and Type 2 is primarily due to insulin resistance. Millions of people worldwide have diabetes, but many go undiagnosed. So, what are the signs that you may have diabetes?
One of the signs of diabetes is increased hunger, especially after eating. Despite eating regularly, you still feel hungry and are losing weight. This is because your body is not processing sugar the way it should, and instead of being taken up by cells is being excreted in your urine.
Sugar provides energy in healthy people. So, one of the signs of diabetes is that you feel fatigued and weak: you have low energy because you cannot access the energy provided by sugar. Tiredness may also be due to dehydration.
The extra sugar in your blood makes you very thirsty. Often people find that no matter how much they drink, their thirst remains unquenched.
Just as the high sugar levels in your blood cause thirst, it also causes dry mouth. Drinking does not tend to alleviate this sign of diabetes.
As you are thirsty and drinking more, you will urinate more often. This can become problematic, especially if you must get up several times during the night to go to the toilet. If you are passing more than 5 litres of urine a day, this could be a sign of diabetes. For comparison, the average person must pass urine between 4 and 7 times in 24 hours.
Your body tries to deal with high sugar levels by excreting it in your urine. This means your urine also has high sugar levels, which makes it a perfect environment for the fungus that causes the symptoms of thrush to thrive. Symptoms of thrush include itching, pain and discharge, as well as a stinging sensation when urinating.
While these signs of diabetes strongly indicate that you may have the condition, a definitive diagnosis is made with a blood test, which indicates the presence of a persistent or recurrent high blood sugar level.
The management of diabetes varies from person to person. However, a healthy diet with regular exercise can help. Medications include insulin injections and tablets that decrease the liver’s production of glucose.
If you recognise any of the warning signs above and think that you have signs of diabetes, a visit to your medical specialist should be the first step. The earlier the symptoms of diabetes are recognised and treated, the better. Early treatment and good control of blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing other health conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
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