Type 2 diabetes can come on slowly without any notice. The signs may not be obvious, or there may be no signs at all. Therefore, many people with type 2 diabetes are not aware they have the disease and may already have developed various health complications. That’s why it’s very important to know the common symptoms and risk factors of diabetes to find out the risk, so you can do something about it on time.
The common symptoms you need to know:
Increased thirst and frequent urination: due to high blood sugars, body make more urine to remove excess glucose out of the system. As a result, you may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
Increased hunger and fatigue: If the body has insulin that is not enough, it becomes difficult for glucose to enter the cells. This involves a lot of energy expenditure that leads to intense hunger. One may even feel tired and irritable.
Blurred vision: High blood sugars often decrease ability to focus and may lead to blurred vision.
Weight loss: Despite eating more, you may lose weight. It is because there is not enough insulin for the body, so it uses alternative fuel for energy. Excess glucose is passed in the urine, without being utilised, this leads to weight loss.
Slow-healing of wounds and frequent infections: Bacteria can thrive when your blood sugar levels are high. This will hinder the ability of the body to heal. This makes you prone towards harmful infections.
Dry mouth and itchy skin: In diabetes the body utilises fluids to get rid of extra glucose, this leads to dehydration. This cause dryness of mouth, itchy dry skin etc.
Areas of darkened skin: Patches of dark, velvety skin developed in the area where skin folds like armpits and neck. This condition is known as acanthosis nigricans, it is usually due to insulin resistance.
Now, let’s understand some of the common risk factors associated with diabetes:
Your age and origin – Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age. Generally, people over the age of 40 have an increased risk of developing the condition. However, people of certain origin including Asian Indians have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes at a much earlier age. During recent years, type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically among younger age group.
Family history. Genetics is one of the strong risk factor of diabetes. You’re two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes, if you have a parent or sibling with diabetes. The closer the relative, the greater the risk.
Weight. Being overweight will increase your risk of many diseases including diabetes. The more fat you have, especially around your belly, the more resistant your cells become to insulin, thus making you prone to diabetes. However, good news is reducing your body weight by about 5-7% could decrease the risk of getting diabetes by more than 50%.
Physical Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater is your risk. It has been suggested in a variety of observational and experimental epidemiologic studies that physical activity may play a significant role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Physical activity helps you control your weight, it uses up glucose to generate energy and makes the cells use insulin effectively.
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Having blood pressure over 140/90 mm Hg is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Deranged cholesterol levels are associated with diabetes. If you have low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, and high level of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, your risk of type 2 diabetes is higher.
Gestational diabetes. If you have history of gestational diabetes in pregnancy, your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is even more. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or 4 kg, you’re are at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome — a common condition characterized by hormonal imbalance, irregular menstrual periods, excess facial hair growth and obesity — also increases the risk of diabetes.
Some other risk factors to consider:
- You have ever had a heart attack or a stroke
- If diagnosed with psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder
- Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea
- Or been prescribed any steroid medication by a doctor
It is recommended that anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every 3 years. And, anyone who is overweight and has one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently at younger age.
The earlier you are diagnosed, the sooner you can take action to stay well – now and in the future. You can take steps to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight, cutting down extra calories, and being more physically active. Talk with your health care provider about your individual risk factor that may require medical treatment. Managing these health problems may help reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
You can also check your risk of having diabetes in future by clicking the link below.