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World Diabetes Day: Could you name the 7 subtle signs of the illness?

There are plenty of early clues to indicate that you might have diabetes, but some are so subtle that you might not notice.

It’s been dubbed one of the fastest growing health crises of our time, with more than 3.9 million people estimated to suffer from  it in the UK – yet many of us are still in the dark about how to spot the symptoms of diabetes.

In many cases, this serious condition is largely preventable. Yet the number of people diagnosed continues to grow, and here in the UK, figures have more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to analysis by Diabetes UK.

Diabetes is defined as a group of serious, lifelong metabolic disorders that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, and the NHS estimates that around 90% of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it means that your body can’t make any insulin at all. If you’ve got Type 2 diabetes, it’s a bit different: The insulin your body produces either fails to work effectively, or you can’t produce enough of it.

Left untreated, diabetes can lead to a whole host of health complications including amputations, blindness, kidney illness, stroke and heart disease – so it’s really important to read up on the facts.

As today, November 14, marks World Diabetes Day, we outline some of the most common warning signs to look out for…

1. Unexplained weight loss

Happy slim woman look her old jeans in the mirror at home

Diabetes can affect your weight

If you haven’t made any changes to your diet or exercise routine, but you’ve noticed a significant drop in your weight (losing a few pounds here or there is normal), it could be a sign that something isn’t quite right.

In people with diabetes, insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood into the cells to use as energy, so as an alternative, it burns fat and muscle instead.

2. Recurring thrush

People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from yeast infections because they have more sugar in their bodies. High blood sugar levels are one of the main causes of thrush, along with a weakened immune system, which is also common in people with diabetes.

3. Needing to urinate more frequently

Woman with Hands Holding her Crotch

Look out for changes to your toilet schedule

Frequent urination is one of the major signs of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. This irritating symptom usually occurs because sugar builds up in your blood, and your kidneys are forced to work overtime to filter and absorb it. As the kidneys struggle to keep up with the rate of work, the sugar is excreted into your urine, causing you to need the toilet.

4. Feeling thirsty

Noticed you’re in need of a drink more than usual? If you have a thirst you can’t quench, it might be down to diabetes. As the body urinates more frequently to get rid of the excess sugar in your system, it triggers the thirst reflex to help replace the fluid you’re losing.

5. Blurred vision

As well as your kidneys, diabetes can also affect your eyesight too. High levels of blood sugar pull fluid from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes, which makes it harder for your eyes to focus.

6. Fatigue

Tired woman touching her eyesc

Diabetes can make you feel wiped out all the time

Glucose, along with dehydration, can make you feel really sluggish and groggy, making it difficult for people who suffer from Diabetes to feel energised in the morning. Fatigue is feeling very tired most, or all, of the time.

7. Slow-healing wounds

Research has found a link between high levels of glucose and wounds that are slower to heal. While minor cuts and scrapes are a part of everyday life, they can be more serious for someone with diabetes, as wounds that do not heal well can become infected, leading to serious health issues.

If you have any symptoms of diabetes, there’s no immediate reason to panic, but you should contact your GP and get tested if you’re concerned. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it’s worth ruling out, as early diagnosis means you can access treatment sooner, which is vital to reduce the chances of developing serious complications.

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