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What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

written by: Debbie Roome • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/15/2011

Diabetes is a condition that often goes undetected for a period of time before a diagnosis is made. What are the symptoms of sugar diabetes? Read on to learn more about this chronic disease.

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    What is Sugar Diabetes

    Sugar diabetes is more commonly known as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an inability of the body to produce enough insulin to maintain stable blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas may continue to produce insulin, but the body is unable to utilize it effectively. When blood sugar levels rise, they cause a number of signs and symptoms in the body. It is important to visit a doctor if there is any suspicion that a person is suffering from diabetes.

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    Signs and Symptoms

    The signs and symptoms of diabetes are similar whether the person is suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. They generally appear over a period of time and may be hardly noticeable to begin with. As the pancreas fails to produce insulin or the body fails to utilize what is produced, the symptoms become more pronounced and medical help should be sought.

    The following are the most common:

    • Tiredness is common and results from the inability of the body to convert glucose in the bloodstream into energy.
    • Weight loss occurs when the body breaks down fat reserves to use for energy.
    • The most well known symptoms of diabetes are probably thirst and frequent urination. When blood sugar levels rise too high, the kidneys utilize the liquids in the body to filter out the excess sugar and pass it into the urine. This causes extra urine that needs to be passed. Frequent urination causes thirst and if the person drinks sugary drinks, the problem is amplified. Excess thirst and urination should always be investigated by a doctor.
    • Blurred vision is another sign. When blood sugar levels are high, the lenses of the eye absorb glucose and water which causes swelling and results in blurry vision. Fortunately this can be reversed if the diabetes is diagnosed and treated within a reasonable length of time.
    • Cystitis and thrush are fairly common. Bladder infections are caused by bacteria and these thrive in the glucose in a diabetic’s urine. Thrush is a fungal infection that also grows well when glucose is present.
    • If diabetes is not diagnosed, it can lead to a serious condition called ketoacidosis. This occurs when the body cannot utilize glucose and breaks down fat to use as energy instead. As fats are broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine. In high levels, ketones are poisonous. Ketoacidosis causes fruity breath in its early stages but may eventually lead to nausea and vomiting, confusion, decreased consciousness, seizures and coma.

    Understanding and recognizing the symptoms of sugar diabetes can lead to an earlier diagnosis and better health long term. It is essential to seek medical help if diabetes is suspected as it will not resolve itself.

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    Resources

    Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000305.htm

    Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000320.htm

    Type 2 Diabetes – Your Questions Answered, Rosemary Walker & Jill Rodgers, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 2006