13 Dangerous signs that a person’s body has a very high sugar level.
Type 2 diabetes is a common, modern-age disease. It initially presents with few symptoms, which can be easily overlooked. One out of three people who have it don’t even know about it.
As diabetes is a serious condition that can cause dangerous complications – including cardiovascular and neurological damage – it is important to detect it as soon as possible.
With the right diet, exercise regimen and, if necessary, medications, diabetes can be kept under control, and the person can continue to live a fulfilling life.
Find out about some of the early warning signs of diabetes, so you can act on it and protect your health.
The following symptoms develop as a result of this:
1. Frequent urination (polyuria)
If you notice that you have to urinate more often, and you wake up during the night (sometimes several times) to empty your bladder, this could be a warning sign.
The most common cause of polyuria in both adults and children is uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, which causes osmotic diuresis, when glucose levels are so high that glucose is excreted in the urine.
Water follows the glucose concentration passively, leading to abnormally high urine output.
2. Excessive thirst (polydipsia):
This symptom links with the previous one. As you lose more fluids, the body will try to replenish them, hence the constant need to drink.
Increased thirst can also occur as a result of high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or yet to be diagnosed diabetes.
Increased thirst in people with diabetes can sometimes be, but certainly not always, an indication of higher than normal blood glucose levels.
3. Increased hunger (polyphagia):
Due to extreme highs and lows in blood sugar levels, the body develops a sudden urge to eat. The cells don’t get enough glucose, so you crave it.
In uncontrolled diabetes where blood glucose levels remain abnormally high (hyperglycemia), glucose from the blood cannot enter the cells –
due to either a lack of insulin or insulin resistance – so the body can’t convert the food you eat into energy. This lack of energy causes an increase in hunger.
4. Dry mouth:
You experience a lack of moisture in the mouth, which can be both unpleasant and dangerous.
One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is dry mouth, or xerostomia. Dry mouth is a common symptom in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not everyone with diabetes will experience it, though.
You can also have dry mouth if you don’t have diabetes. If you have dry mouth and suspect you might have diabetes, you should talk to your primary care doctor.
5. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain:
In people with diabetes, insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood into the body’s cells to use as energy.
When this occurs, the body starts burning fat and muscle for energy, causing a reduction in overall body weight.
Unexpected weight loss is often noticed in people prior to a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes but it may also affect people with type 2 diabetes.
Excessive tiredness can develop when body constantly compensates for the lack of glucose in the cells. It also doesn’t help if your sleep gets interrupted by the urgency to urinate.
The tired feeling of diabetes fatigue is usually due to an imbalance of blood sugar. Your cells rely on sugar for fuel and energy.
The hormone insulin controls the cell’s ability to remove sugar (glucose) from the blood.
7. Vision problems:
High blood sugar also affects the eyes. It changes the shape of the lens and eyes. As a result, your vision becomes blurry.
When blood glucose levels go up, blood gets thicker. Thicker blood pulls in more fluid from surrounding tissues, including the lenses of the eye, impacting the ability to focus.
Changing the shape of the lens naturally throws off vision. This can be a chronic, 24/7 kind of problem, or it can occur only after a high-carb meal, when glucose is way up.
A headache can develop due to elevated blood sugar levels and is considered an early sign of hyperglycemia (high blood glucose). The symptom gets worse as condition worsens.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms don’t usually occur until glucose is above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Many don’t feel any symptoms even at higher blood sugar levels.
A headache from high blood glucose generally takes several days to develop. As a result, the symptoms are often slow to appear.
9. Infections, cuts and bruises that do not heal:
Wounds or sores that take more than a few weeks to heal might be infected and require medical treatment, and often indicate an underlying disease such as diabetes.
High levels of blood glucose caused by diabetes can, over time, affect the nerves (neuropathy) and lead to poor blood circulation,
making it hard for blood – needed for skin repair – to reach areas of the body affected by sores or wounds.
10. Yeast infections:
Since bacteria and fungi thrive in a sugary environment, infections can become more common.
The effects of diabetes on the body become more obvious as time goes on. People who don’t keep good control of their blood sugar may develop complications related to the constantly high levels.
One such complication is a difficulty in fighting off infections, either bacterial or fungal. Dr. Einhorn explains, “Some women, especially those with poorly controlled diabetes, have some compromise in their ability to fight off any infection.”
11. Numbness and tingling in hands and feet:
The cause of our tingling and numbness from diabetes is usually peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. This complication results from high blood glucose levels damaging nerves and blood vessels.
Since the damage hits our smallest blood vessels first, the nerves these vessels feed may develop paresthesia quickly.
So tingling and numbness in our toes and fingers are often some of the earliest complications of Type 2 diabetes.
12. Skin changes:
Acanthosis nigricans. This condition is characterized by the formation of velvety, brownish, thickened areas of skin in the groin, underarms, under the breasts, and in the creases of the neck.
Vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that causes white spots or large areas of depigmentation to occur on various areas of the body.
Granuloma annulare. A common skin disorder of unknown cause, granuloma annulare manifests as skin-colored or pinkish groups of bumps, or papules, that may be arranged in rings.
13. Sexual dysfunction:
Erections take teamwork from several parts of the body: Your brain makes you aroused, your nerves sense pleasurable feelings, and your arteries carry a flood of blood to the penis.
Unfortunately, poorly controlled diabetes can ruin that teamwork. Blood sugar that stays too high for too long can both deaden your nerves and damage the arteries that feed your penis.
You can still get aroused, but you’ll have trouble turning those feelings into action.