Diabetes is a common condition, that can affect a wide range of different people, including people of different cultural backgrounds and ages. Diabetes occurs when a person has high blood glucose, because the body is unable to produce enough insulin. If there is insufficient insulin production, it means that the insulin is unable to help move the glucose from the bloodstream and into the cells to be used for energy.
In diabetes, the signs and symptoms that you experience are related to:
a) the severity of diabetes, i.e. how high your blood glucose levels are,
b) how long you have had the condition, i.e. how long you have high blood glucose levels for.
If diabetes goes undiagnosed, it can lead to a wide range of health conditions. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of diabetes, so if you are experiencing any of them, you can seek treatment early.
The most common sign of diabetes is…
That’s right. Nothing. The reason that doctors need to test for diabetes (and people need to demand it), is that most people have no idea that they have it. This regular testing is most important in people at the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Some early signs that you may have prediabetes or diabetes, includes:
Yeast and other fungi use glucose for energy and thrive in an environment that is high in sugar. An overgrowth of yeast can result in yeast infections and thrush. Infections can grow in any place on the body that is a warm, moist fold of the skin, including:
Vaginal yeast infections have symptoms including:
Oral thrush can develop over time, and displays some of the following symptoms:
Women are more likely to experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) compared to men because of female anatomy. In women, the urethra, which transports urine from the bladder out of the body, is much shorter than the male urethra. It is also much closer to the vagina and anus. Because of this length and location, any naturally occurring bacteria in these areas of the body, have a shorter distance to travel to enter into the bladder, which can result in an infection. If a UTI is not treated, it can lead to a kidney infection.
You may have a UTI if you experience the following:
The reason why UTIs are a sign of type 2 diabetes in women, is because ongoing high blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage as well impair the immune system. If bacteria start to cause UTIs, the body won’t be well equipped enough to fight the infection.
Ongoing high blood glucose can cause nerve damage, resulting in tingling and loss of sensation. Nerve damage can affect sensation in the vaginal area, which may lower a woman’s sex drive.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects a woman’s hormones. Around 50-70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone too, and if the cells in the body become insulin resistant, it can result in high blood glucose levels. Since women with PCOS will likely experience insulin resistance, they have an increased the risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of PCOS include:
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women, occurring around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. Hormones produced during pregnancy can contribute to insulin resistance seen in gestational diabetes. Most pregnant women are able to make enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance, but some cannot.
Like with type 2 diabetes, extra weight is linked to gestational diabetes. This means that women who are overweight or obese, may already have insulin resistance before they become pregnant. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Typically, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, women with gestational diabetes have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes, also have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
All pregnant woman should be tested for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy (except for those women who already have diabetes).
There are some risk factors that mean you are more likely to develop diabetes. These include:
If you experience any of the above signs and symptoms it is important to get tested for diabetes as soon as possible. Some people are at higher risk and need regular testing if you are 45 years or older or have other risk factors for diabetes. By diagnosing and treating the condition early, it means you can decrease the risk of developing any further health complications, for example nerve damage, blindness, and heart disease.
If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes and would like to know more about how best to manage the condition, you can explore our 12 week diabetes program. The first week is free to try and full of useful information to help you.
If you want to learn more about diabetes, we have dedicated information pages: