World Diabetes Day is commemorated every November 14 to draw attention to the causes, symptoms, treatment, and complications associated with this disease. It was established in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), due to the alarming increase in the number of cases worldwide.
Therefore, in this article, we want to provide guidance on the symptoms so that you are alert and consult your doctor to perform the appropriate laboratory tests to detect possible diabetes. If you want to know what types of diabetes exist and other details about this disease, we invite you to read our previous article.
Diabetes: what it is and causes
Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that compromise the way the body uses the glucose available in the blood. Glucose is a vital source of energy for the proper functioning of cells that form muscles and tissues, and it is also a fuel for the brain.
The amount of glucose in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach. When we eat food, it is digested, enters the bloodstream and insulin is in charge of carrying glucose from the blood to the cells.
Knowing this, we tell you that when there is diabetes the body cannot break down glucose into energy, because we are not producing enough insulin or this hormone does not work properly. So, diabetes can cause an excess of glucose in the blood and a very high level of it is the cause of serious health problems.
You should also know that diabetes can appear at any age, however, type 1 diabetes usually appears from childhood or adolescence, while type 2 diabetes (the most frequent) is more common in people over 40 years old.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Now let’s see what are the first symptoms of diabetes, which can serve as an alert to act in time and go to a doctor who will indicate us to perform the relevant laboratory tests to detect the disease.
The following symptoms can affect any person, whether an adult or a minor:
- Urinating more frequently than usual, especially at night;
- Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a by-product of the breakdown of muscle and fat);
- Feeling very thirsty;
- Feeling more tired than usual or fatigued;
- Losing muscle mass;
- Losing weight for no apparent reason;
- Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of itching or thrush;
- Cuts, sores, and wounds on the skin take longer to heal;
- Blurred vision;
- Increased hunger;
- Frequent gum or skin infections.
It is important to understand that everyone is different and symptoms will not match exactly in two people. However, it is good to underline that the most common symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, more frequent urination, feeling tired, and weight loss. Regarding the first two symptoms, these occur because glucose remains in the blood and is not transformed into energy. In response, the body eliminates excess glucose in the urine, which increases thirst. Also, high levels of glucose in the urine often lead to fungal infections, such as candidiasis.
Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes
The idea is not to scare people. First, because having some of the symptoms of diabetes does not mean that you definitely have this disease, and, second, we want to insist that you should always go to your trusted physician for evaluation.
That is, if you feel bad and you have been having some of the symptoms we have mentioned, it is important that you are seen by a professional who will order specific tests and blood tests for diabetes. And this advice also applies if you think your child, partner, or other relative is at risk of developing diabetes.
Once diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor will indicate a treatment that is vital to follow in the letter. Depending on the type of diabetes you have, he or she may prescribe blood sugar control, insulin, and oral medications. In addition, it is very important that you consider the following, in case you have any of the types of diabetes:
It is advisable to consume more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, to have a diet based on nutrients, fiber and low in fat and calories. In other words, the main thing is to reduce the consumption of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and sweets. For the prescription of an appropriate diet for each case of diabetes, it is essential to consult a nutritionist or dietician.
You need to do moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes for the whole week. You can do a sport such as swimming or simply take a walk, ride a bike, or walk your dog. There are many alternatives to exercise in a simple and entertaining way, outdoors or indoors, but the most important thing is that physical activity is part of your routine.
Because exercise lowers the level of glucose in the blood, helping it to be transported to the cells to be used in the production of energy. In addition, physical activity increases insulin sensitivity and our body requires less of this hormone to transport glucose into the cells.