Thought the only sign of being diabetic is being overweight? Think again...
Around 3.7 million people in the UK have diabetes, yet according to Diabetes UK, around 590,000 suffer - but they don't even know about it.
And while diabetes - a lifelong condition - can be successfully managed once it’s diagnosed, delaying that diagnosis puts people at risk of serious complications, including amputation and blindness.
This is a key concern for Type 2 diabetes, the type associated with weight which accounts for around 90% of all cases.
Type 2 occurs when the body can no longer make enough insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas which enables us to use sugar/glucose), or the insulin being produced isn’t doing its job properly.
Type 1, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to do with weight or lifestyle and tends to develop during childhood when a fault in the body causes insulin-producing cells to be destroyed.
“The symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 are very similar, however they tend to come on a lot quicker in Type 1, and you can end up very poorly and in hospital if not diagnosed straight away,” says Diabetes UK clinical advisor Libby Dowling.
“Type 2 is a little different. A lot of people put the symptoms of Type 2 down to getting older, and the condition can sometimes go undiagnosed for up to 10 years, by which time complications could have started to develop.”
But, aside from increased thirst, needing to be more and tiredness, what are those symptoms?
We reveal five more surprising signs of diabetes…
1. Blurred vision
If your vision isn’t as sharp as it used to be, or you’re struggling to see fine details clearly and have more floaters than usual, it could be due to diabetes, as blood sugar disruptions may cause the eye’s lens to become dry or swollen.
One or both eyes may be affected. Always get eye symptoms checked out; if not diabetes, they could be due to something else that needs treating.
2. Itching down below
Countless things can cause itchy genitals, from skin sensitivities and allergies to sexually-transmitted infections.
Another cause is thrush, or yeast infections, which are very common and easy to treat – and which can repeatedly strike if you have Type 2 diabetes.
This is because the associated high glucose levels in blood or urine provide the perfect breeding ground for troublesome yeast.
3. Slow healing wounds
If minor cuts, burns and grazes suddenly seem to take ages to heal, it could be a sign that something’s wrong, like a nutritional deficiency – or potentially diabetes.
If not managed carefully, diabetes can lead to nerve damage and poor circulation, resulting in slower healing.
4. Nausea and vomiting
Feeling – and being – sick can happen for many reasons, some of which are serious and many of which aren’t cause for too much concern.
However, if you notice an increase in unexplained nausea and sickness, it could be a sign of Type 1 or 2 diabetes, as blood sugar fluctuations can disrupt the metabolism or cause dizziness (another possible symptom!), which sometimes makes people feel sick.
As mentioned above, dizziness can be a sign of diabetes, due to both low blood sugar or dehydration (brought on because diabetes can make people pee far more than usual).
Again, dizziness doesn’t always spell health disaster, but if it continues for more than a day or two, or the dizzy spells are lasting a long time, get checked out by a doc; there could be a number of causes that need investigating.