Signs of Diabetes

by Catherine Rein
(last updated April 22, 2009)

Diabetes can strike anyone and it is important to know the warning signs. If diabetes is left untreated it can lead to death or severe damage of the major organs, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage. Diabetics also need to play special attention to health care items such as caring for dry skin, foot care and getting regular eye exams. The following is more information on the main categories of diabetes.

  • Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and is often referred to as Juvenile Diabetes. This disease can cause serious complications with the heart, eyes, nerves and kidneys if left untreated. The main symptoms include increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision.
  • Type 2 Diabetes. This is the most common form of diabetes. This illness occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. It is diagnosed with a Fasting Plasma Glucose test (FPG) level higher than 126 mg/dl or an Oral Glucose Tolerance test above 200 mg/dl. Similar to Type I diabetes, Type II diabetes can also cause many serious complications including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage.
  • Pre-Diabetes. Blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This can be treated to delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes. Damage to the organs can already be occurring in pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is diagnosed with either a FPG blood glucose level between 100-126 mg/dl or an OGTT blood glucose level between 140-200 mg/dl.

You can prevent pre-diabetes with regular exercise, by losing weight and eating a reduced fat and lower calorie diet. Some groups are at a higher risk for developing Type II diabetes than others and need to pay special attention to healthy diet choices and physical activity. It is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes be proactive with your health care. You should be sure to moisturize your skin and avoid things that might cause dry skin, such as hot showers or cold weather. Treat cuts with soap and water and see a doctor right away if you develop an infection.

Also, take care of your feet, which in diabetics are prone to develop swelling, blisters and sores due to circulation problems. With careful preventative care you can avoid life-threatening injuries and complications.

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