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Published November 8, 2017

Q: Mr. Pedometer, you have warned us in past editions that we may be heading toward Type 2 diabetes without even knowing it. Besides being very thirsty, are there other symptoms we should be aware of?

A: Your question is very timely, as this is National Diabetes Awareness Month. It is crucial to seek medical help as soon as possible when you are experiencing symptoms that may lead to Type 2 diabetes. Here is what recently shared about unusual symptoms you might overlook:

  • “When you have Type 2 diabetes, it’s important to be diagnosed as early as possible, since untreated symptoms can lead to dangerous – and sometimes irreversible – damage to the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Common symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, confusion, nausea, and increased urination, says David Bradley, MD (of Ohio State University). But those aren’t the only signs that may signal Type 2 diabetes – there are several more unusual symptoms that many people don’t commonly associate with the disease:
  • BLURRY VISION – “If you are having trouble reading street signs, your glasses may not be the problem. Although later-stage diabetes can cause permanent eye damage, blurry vision that arises in the early stages of the disease may be reversible….High blood-sugar levels cause fluid levels in some tissues to drop, including the lenses of your eye.”
  • YOUR SKIN LOOKS AND FEELS WEIRD – “When blood-sugar levels are heightened, the kidneys eliminate excess sugar through the urine, which results in increased urination and loss of fluid. The subsequent dehydration causes increased thirst, and may cause itchy skin…. You might also notice darkening in the body’s folds and creases (such as the armpits, groin, and neck)….”
  • A WOUND THAT WON’T HEAL – “A slow-to-heal cut or bug bite can be a red flag for diabetes. Hyperglycemia (aka high blood-sugar) decreases the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to wounds through the bloodstream, slowing the healing process and lowering the immune system…. This effect on immunity may also lead to more frequent colds and illness.
  • “FREQUENT YEAST INFECTIONS OR JOCK ITCH – “This is why women with diabetes are prone to chronic yeast infections, and men are more likely to develop jock itch. Yeast can grow in other areas, too – creating itchy rashes in skin folds, such as under the breasts, and between fingers and toes.”
  • PROBLEMS IN THE BEDROOM – “Diabetes can cause a decrease in sexual function in both men and women. Men may experience erectile dysfunction, while women may have vaginal dryness and problems with arousal. This is because high blood-sugar levels can damage blood vessels and nerves that you need to work properly for sexual response…. Nerves control the body’s response to sexual stimuli, signaling an increase in blood flow to the genitals; damage to these areas contributes to sexual dysfunction.”
  • RESTLESS SLEEP – “Diabetes doesn’t only lead to dangerous spikes in blood-sugar, but can cause dips – known as hypoglycemia – as well. Nighttime hypoglycemia may cause nighttime sweats,
    as well as vivid dreams…. Dangerously low blood-sugar levels can lead to serious complications, and can even be life-threatening if not addressed properly. And if you’re a frequent napper, the habit could be increasing your risk for developing diabetes. 2015 research published in Diabetologia found that regularly taking a nap of an hour or longer raises risk of Type 2 diabetes by 46 percent.”
  • YOU’RE LOSING WEIGHT – “This may sound like good news, but if you’ve recently dropped a significant amount of weight without trying – or perhaps even while eating more than usual – it may be a sign of diabetes. Insulin resistance causes sugar to stay stuck in the bloodstream rather than being moved into cells for energy storage…. With diabetes, your body also loses sugar through urination. Because sugar is a source of energy, or calories, this can lead to weight loss.”

I hope none of our readers are experiencing a cluster of these unusual symptoms. However, if you are, seeing a doctor sooner rather than later may affect your quality of life for the rest of your life.