Warning Signs of Diabetes – Detecting Them Before It’s Too Late

At least 90 percent of people with diabetes in the United States and Canada have Type 2 diabetes. Also known as adult-onset diabetes because it typically occurs in people from age 45 up, Type 2 diabetes has begun occurring in younger people as well and the number of cases is rising.

The problem with Type 2 diabetes is that symptoms occur very gradually in the early stages. In some people, symptoms may not be even felt. However, there are telltale signs that may indicate Type 2 diabetes. Some of these symptoms include:

Frequent urination

People with Type 2 diabetes notice this symptom upon the onset of the disease. Since a diabetic’s body will be producing more insulin than he can handle, his kidneys work doubly hard in order to rid his system of the excessive sugar. The result: frequent trips to the toilet to urinate. Because the body is rid of fluids, frequent urination can also lead to thirst in diabetics.

If not managed well, frequent urination can lead to dehydration, a common complaint in those who have diabetes mellitus. If not corrected, this can lead to headaches, dizziness and confusion.

Fatigue and hunger

Dehydration can also cause the body to feel irritable and tired. Also, since the body cannot process glucose efficiently, the muscles lack the ‘fuel’ to work. Glucose or sugar is converted by the body as energy. Without this source of energy, muscles feel weakened. This also explains why people with Type 2 diabetes often feel drowsy due to the lack of energy. If you are unsure what your blood sugar levels should be please see blood sugar level chart.

Hunger may also be experienced as a Type 2 diabetes symptom because glucose cannot be used by the body’s cells as food or fuel.

Unexplained loss of weight

Another symptom of Type 2 diabetes is weight loss, which may occur without any explanation. Even if people eat more, weight loss will still be noticed. This is caused by loss of fluids in the body, along with the inability of the system to process and use sugar.
Double or blurry vision

Some Type 2 diabetics may also experience blurry vision. Diabetes may cause blockage in small blood vessels in the eyes which can lead to retinopathy. Retinopathy is a condition where the lining that coats the back of the eyes thins or breaks down. This can lead to blindness.


Neuropathy is actually a group of conditions involving the nerves. In diabetics, this causes tingling sensations of the feet. Feet can also feel sensitive or cold to the touch and many diabetics report feeling burning pain.

Loss of feeling

The loss of feeling is sometimes manifested as a tingling sensation in the hands and/or feet. This can progress to numbness, in which the extremities lose feeling. This is due to bad blood circulation, when blood cannot efficiently reach these parts of the body.

These symptoms can cause discomfort in people, which often leads to a lack of coordination. The problem with numbness is that if it progresses, the lack of feeling in hands and feet can often prevent a person from knowing or feeling pain from sores, cuts or wounds. Even after a cut occurs, he or she may not be able to detect it.

To make matters worse, Type 2 diabetes makes healing difficult. Since sores and wounds remain open for long periods of time, the risk of developing infection is much greater. Should complications develop, this symptom can lead to amputation.

Dealing with symptoms of Type 2 diabetes requires correct information. It’s important that the proper diagnosis of the disease is performed. If diabetes is suspected, it’s best to visit a medical clinic or facility and ask for the assistance and guidance of a medical professional.

Blood sugar levels and diabetes

Blood sugar levels and diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food—particularly glucose, a simple sugar which is an end product of the digestion of more complex carbohydrates. Normally, your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone which enables the body to use glucose, and automatically adjusts insulin output to keep your blood sugar in the normal range. If you are diabetic, your disease interferes with the way insulin helps your body’s cells to use glucose. Diabetes cannot yet be cured, but it can be controlled.

Three primary types of diabetes

These are Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes.

Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM):
IDDM, also known as Type 1 or juvenile diabetes, most often develops in children and young adults. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces too little insulin or none at all. Most Type 1 diabetics must take insulin, delivered by injection or pump. Researchers are investigating the use of pancreas transplants to cure Type 1 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes:
Gestational diabetes occurs in some women during pregnancy and usually ends after the baby is delivered. However, women with gestational diabetes may develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes may result from the body’s resistance to insulin caused by hormones produced by the placenta during pregnancy. It is usually treated with diet. If this is insufficient, the pregnant woman must use insulin, as oral diabetic medications could harm her unborn baby.

Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM):
NIDDM is the focus of this resource guide. It is also known as Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes. NIDDM is the most common form of the disease, affecting about 90% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes. It most commonly develops in people over the age of 40 who are overweight. In NIDDM, some insulin is produced by the pancreas, but either the amount is not sufficient or the cells cannot use it efficiently because they are resistant to insulin. While some Type 2 diabetics inject insulin, most are treated through weight control with diet and exercise, and with oral medications.

measuring blood sugar levels
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Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

The onset of Type 2 diabetes is usually sudden and dramatic, and most obstetricians today routinely test their pregnant patients for gestational diabetes. But the onset of Type 2 diabetes may be so gradual that the diabetic does not notice the symptoms, and is shocked when the condition is diagnosed during a routine physical exam.

The word diabetes comes from one of its more distressing symptoms. From the Greek dia-, meaning across, and bainein, to straddle, it refers to the discharge of excessive amounts of urine. Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst and frequent urination, irritability, fatigue and nausea. Someone suffering from diabetes may also sometimes experience weight loss despite an increased appetite.

Other symptoms are repeated or slow-healing infections of the skin, gums, vagina or bladder; blurred vision; tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet; and dry, itchy skin. Factors that increase your risk of developing diabetes include obesity, a family history of diabetes, physiological or emotional stress, pregnancy and certain medications. Persons over forty years old are also more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes. The disease is more common among Native Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

Care and Treatment

While a cure for diabetes has not yet been found, there is hope as research continues. Meanwhile, there are many approaches available for reducing the impact Type 2 diabetes has on your life and well being.

Eating a carefully balanced diet, pursuing a regular exercise regimen and not smoking are beneficial habits for everyone, but essential for the diabetic.

Some diabetics are treated with insulin, delivered by injection one or more times a day or by a pump, and others are treated with oral medications. Alternative healing approaches may also prove helpful.

The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample reserve energy to enjoy leisure pursuits; the ability to respond to physical and emotional stress without excessive increase in heart rate and blood pressure—all of this can still be accomplished by a person with diabetes.

Blood Glucose Monitoring

Recent studies have shown that the key to slowing or preventing the development of diabetic complications is maintaining blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. It is important to know how close you are to achieving this goal, so that your diet, exercise and medications can be adjusted. Your health control practitioner will outline a monitoring schedule suited to your needs and show you how to monitor and record your blood sugar level by drawing a drop of blood from your finger and analyzing it on a hand-held meter.


Following a diet plan is an essential part of the treatment of diabetes. Your nutritionist can help you to develop a diet plan consistent with your lifestyle and food preferences.

In recent years, two main approaches to diabetic diet planning have been the exchange system and, more recently, carbohydrate counting. Other approaches to diabetic diet planning include the glycemic index and the high-carbohydrate, high-plant fiber (HCF) diet. The HCF diet is based in part on the observation that diabetes begins to rise in non-Western cultures when people abandon traditional foods for a Western diet of refined and processed foods.

Losing weight can also reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, or can improve your condition if you are already diabetic. In some cases, weight loss may also reduce the amount of medicine you need to take, or even allow you to control your diabetes with diet and exercise alone.


Oral medications are frequently used to treat Type 2 diabetes. These medications fall into one of several drug groups:

Sulfonylurea drugs, which help the body increase insulin production and lower the glucose level. First generation sulfonylureas (marketed before 1984) include Dymelor (acetohexamide), tolbutamide and tolazamide. Second generation sulfonylureas (marketed since 1984) include Amaryl (glimepiride), diabinese, Orinase, Tolinase, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, tolazamide, Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL (glipizide), Diabeta (glyburide), Glynase (glyburide), and Micronase (glyburide);

Biguanide drugs, which make the insulin the body produces work harder. This includes Glucophage (metformin);

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitor drugs, which delay the digestion of sugars and starches. This includes Precose (acarbose);

Thiazolidinedione drugs, which make the insulin the body produces work better. This includes Rezulin (troglitazone);

Meglitinide drugs, which stimulate insulin secretion from the beta cells of the pancreas. This includes Prandin (repaglinide).

Alternative Treatment Approaches

Alternative treatment approaches generally place more emphasis on the body as a whole and integrated unit, rather than on a particular disease, except as that disease is symptomatic of, or related to larger, underlying issues, such as toxicity, dehydration or deficiencies.

As more Americans discover the benefit of alternative therapies, more allopathic physicians are supporting their use or incorporating them into their own practices. Alternative therapies include but are not be limited to Ayurvedic medicine, biomagnetic therapies, herbal medicine, nutritional therapies, homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, holistic medicine and naturopathy. As much as possible, we have listed resources that are affiliated with medical doctors, or where the listed resource has a multi-year history of service to its patients.

Stress Reduction

Stress is a risk factor in developing or aggravating diabetes. Alternative treatments that reduce your stress level, such as biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, hypnotherapy and other relaxation techniques may help improve your diabetic control, and can assist in pain management.

Pain Relief

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a complication characterized by numbness, tingling or burning in the extremities, which may in time become so painful as to be debilitating. Alternative methods of pain relief, such as biofeedback and acupuncture, have been used to alleviate the pain of DPN. Magnetic footpads may help relieve foot pain caused by DPN. Another alternative treatment of DPN is the use of capsaicin cream, derived from capsicum, a substance found in plants of the hot pepper family.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

The value of vitamin and mineral supplements in the treatment of diabetes has not yet been conclusively established, but certain substances are thought to be of value in the treatment of diabetes. These include bilberry, biotin, chromium picolinate, copper, CoQ10, cystime, inositol (a B-complex vitamin), magnesium, manganese, quercetin, taurine, vanadium, zinc and Vitamins B6, B12, C and E.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence


Urinary incontinence (UI) is defined as “a multifactorial syndrome produced by a combination of genitourinary pathology, age-related changes, and comorbid conditions that impair normal micturition or the functional ability to toilet oneself, or both.”

Urinary incontinence affects more than 13 million people in the United States. It is more common in women until around age 85, when the prevalence in men and women becomes approximately equal.

Many older adults think of UI as an inconvenience that is a normal part of aging. Patients often attempt to handle the problem themselves by using absorbent products or by other means, such as limiting travel outside the home or restricting fluid intake. However, UI is not a normal part of aging. People with UI have a high incidence of complications such as skin breakdown, urinary tract infections, falls and fractures – complications that are all associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. Moreover, UI and its associated complications often contribute to the decision to institutionalize frail elders.

Urinary incontinence also contributes to decreased self-esteem and difficulty in maintaining independence and lifestyle, limits social interaction, and negatively affects sexual activity, thereby diminishing older adults’ quality of life.

In addition to its negative impact on the patient, the economic impact of UI is substantial. It is estimated that UI-related costs total more than $36 billion annually. In 1996, an estimated $1.1 billion was spent on disposable absorbent products for adults.

Screening for UI

Discussing incontinence is difficult and embarrassing and many older people do not tell their health care providers that they have urinary incontinence. Thus, it is important for health care providers to question all patients about incontinence as part of their routine patient assessment.

Reassure patients that most cases of UI can be treated with behavioral techniques, pelvic floor muscle exercises, and/or medications — without surgery.