Diabetes is a debilitating chronic condition that affects the way the body processes glucose, a type of sugar. It is caused by a deficiency or dysfunction of the hormone insulin, which is how the body regulates blood sugar levels.
The characteristic sign of diabetes is high blood sugar levels. If left untreated or uncontrolled, high blood sugar levels can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications, including heart disease, nerve damage, and organ failure.
Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, increased hunger, increased thirst, and fatigue.
If you suspect you may have diabetes, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment.
Here are some of the less common symptoms of diabetes that you may not be aware of:
Dry Mouth and Gum Disease
Feeling constantly thirsty and having a dry mouth and throat can be a sign of diabetes. This is because high blood sugar levels can cause fluid to be pulled from your tissues, leading to dehydration. As a result, you may feel the need to drink more fluids and may have a dry mouth and throat.
High blood sugar levels can affect the body’s ability to heal wounds, making them take longer to heal. If you have diabetes and notice that cuts, scrapes, or other wounds are taking longer to heal than usual, it may be a sign of uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can affect the fluids and vessels in your eyes, leading to changes in your vision.
And as diabetes progresses to more advanced stages, the nerves and blood vessels in your eyes may become permanently damaged, leading to visual impairment and blindness.
Numbness and Tingling in the Hands and Feet
High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, or a “pins and needles” sensation in the hands and feet. This condition is known as diabetic neuropathy.
If your blood sugar levels are not brought down to a healthier level, this condition can lead to severe nerve damage that may require surgery or amputation.
High blood sugar levels can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections.
You may be more likely to catch a cold or food poisoning. You may tend to develop urinary tract infections, skin infections, or yeast infections.
Your immune system might also have a harder time fighting off these infections.
Unexpected Weight Loss
While many people with diabetes gain weight due to the condition (and type 2 diabetes is closely associated with obesity), some people may experience unexpected weight loss. This can be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes, as high blood sugar levels can cause the body to break down fat and muscle for energy, leading to weight loss.