Health

18 Early Warning Signs of Diabetes You Should Not Ignore

Diabetes can be described as a group of metabolic diseases where a person has high blood sugar or high blood glucose. This can be because the… Simi - September 28, 2017

Diabetes can be described as a group of metabolic diseases where a person has high blood sugar or high blood glucose. This can be because the body’s insulin production is insufficient or because the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin in the correct way. In some instances, it can be both. When a person has diabetes their body is unable to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose, a form of sugar, is the primary source of energy in our bodies. When this is at an unhealthy level, either too high or too low, it can lead to long and short-term health complications. The best way to explain it is our body needs to be able to convert glucose from food into energy to work properly. Insulin, a hormone, is necessary for that conversion process.

When a person has diabetes insulin is either no longer being produced or there isn’t enough. What happens then is when a diabetic eats foods with glucose, like bread, fruits, cereals, milk, yogurt, sweets, legumes and starchy vegetables, it can’t be converted into energy. Instead, the glucose stays in the blood, resulting in high blood glucose levels. For our bodies to work properly it needs to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. When this doesn’t happen complications can arise and impact various parts of the body including the heart, kidneys, brains, eyes, and feet. Often the early signs of diabetes, especially Type 2 can be so subtle they go unnoticed or they seem harmless enough to not cause any concern. And in some cases, there aren’t any symptoms at all.

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1. Increased Visits to the Bathroom

When you have diabetes your body isn’t able to break down food into sugar, which means there is more sugar in your bloodstream. One of the most effective ways for your body to flush this excess sugar out is by passing urine. If you notice you’re making more frequent trips to the bathroom it’s worth mentioning this to your healthcare practitioner. While peeing regularly throughout the day isn’t that much of a big deal, more attention should be paid if you’re waking up during the night to urinate. Once or twice is normal, especially if you’ve had late night drinks or e ven had too much to drink throughout the day. However, when your sleep pattern is being affected it is definitely a cause for concern.

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Another thing you should pay attention is the amount of urine you exert. This tells a lot about the state of your organism. Because you have excess sugar in your bloodstream, your kidneys will tend to go into overdrive. A consequence of this is frequent urination and the flushing out of the body’s waste. A usual conundrum concerning diabetes is – how can urine be so abundant if I don’t drink too much water? The answer lies in the absorptive properties of glucose. As it passes through you, it will soak up any fluid along the way. This may leave you dehydrated and devoid of energy. If your daily life is obstructed by your urge to urinate, it’s a cause for concern.

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2. You Experience Unexplained Excessive Thirst

People with diabetes usually experience excessive thirst. No matter how much liquid they drink, they still feel dehydrated, which is exactly what’s happening. When there’s too much glucose or sugar in your blood your tissues become dehydrated. This is because your body is pulling as much fluid as it can from your muscles in an attempt to dilute the blood and balance out the high sugar content. This leaves your tissues needing more liquid, and your body feeling like it needs hydration. Of course, this excessive thirst leads to the other telltale sign, increased urination. Everything is connected when it comes to our bodies, so it goes without saying that drinking more liquid means more trips to the bathroom. More trips to the bathroom mean you’re getting rid of fluid, and that leaves you feeling dehydrated. See where we’re going with this?

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Another common sign of diabetes is people will try to quench their thirst with fruit juice and soda. What happens is the sugary drinks pack the bloodstream with an excess of sugar which simply triggers the cycle once again. It’s recommended to rather drink as much water as possible. High blood sugar always promotes thirst. The key to combating this symptom is just following your symptoms closely. If water doesn’t help quench the thirst, it’s high time that you should pay a visit to medical expert. Diabetes is the type of condition that requires constant monitoring and constant treatment. Like with every medical emergency, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Of course, this symptom also requires you to assess your entire diet. Are you ingesting too much sodium in your meals? Another reason for frequent urination may be stimulants or energy supplements. Adderall, ritaline and many pre-workout supplements cause excess thirst.

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3. You Feel Shaky and Hungry

One of the early warning signs of diabetes is feeling shaky or unsteady on your feet. When this happens you usually grab a sugar-loaded snack or a carb but this exacerbates the problem. When you have high blood sugar your body is struggling to regulate the glucose. A snack that’s high in carbohydrates or sugar causes your body to shoot out a little too much insulin, resulting in a sugar high and dip. This is what leaves you feeling shaky, and craving carbs and sugar again. This is a vicious cycle so it’s best to find the right foods to manage the highs and lows and keep them under control.

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Even those “right” foods might not be the solution to the problem. The vicious cycle can only see the end if you choose to speak to a doctor. Insulin spikes can be the result of your overeating and further elevating your blood sugar. You should avoid eating too much to compensate. If you’re eating like normal, but you’re still hungry, think of visiting a medical practitioner. Carefully following how your body behaves is the key. No matter how good a doctor is, he is not knowledgeable about your body like you are. Diabetes is possible if you’re hungry all of a sudden, without any previous lifestyle changes.  The sooner you visit an expert, you will be able to get a diagnosis and begin combating the condition.

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4. Feeling Tired All The Time

All of us have days when we’re tired, that’s normal. But what isn’t quite the norm is an ongoing fatigue that leaves you feeling exhausted all the time. An overwhelming sense of tiredness could be a sign your body isn’t breaking down the food properly and converting sugar into energy your body needs for fuel. Unfortunately, in the case of Type 2 diabetes, your sugar levels could be high for a period of time so this symptom is either overlooked or misdiagnosed as something else. On top of those misdiagnose scares lies something even worse. Since insulin can’t break down sugar, your cells don’t get enough fuel. Cells that need fuel are immune cells too. Frequently, people with undiagnosed diabetes may get sickly all of a sudden. This is because of a lack of white blood cells and other bacteria eliminators.

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Furthermore, your body won’t be able to handle difficult tasks in this state. Physical activity, long studying sessions and everything similar will become impossible. In order to make sure something is wrong, test your organism. Try living more balanced. Eat vegetables, build up your immunity and sleep well. If you still have fatigue problems, it may be diabetes ravaging your organism. Aside from the uncomfortable feeling, diabetes-induced tiredness may put your life in danger. People often ignore this symptom as something normal. You may experience impaired driving skills, a reduced attention span and even mild hallucinations. Don’t risk your life or the life of others. Get checked to make sure you’re healthy and able to function. Ignoring diabetes symptoms may lead to more serious complications. Car accidents, mistakes at work and irritability can all appear due to being tired. Such time spans can be reduced with a simple diagnosis.

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5. Feeling Grumpy and Irritable

We all have days where we’re like bears with a sore bum but when your sugar levels are out of whack there’s a very good chance you’re going to feel the same. You might become short-tempered, feel particularly irritable or even feel depressed. High blood sugar can mimic the same symptoms of depression and so patients are treated accordingly. The difference, however, is your mood might lift as soon as you’ve eaten and your blood sugar levels have normalized. If you notice this change in mood after food it’s worth mentioning to your GP. Unfortunately, such a modus operandi is often ignored by the general population. Due to the existing myth about sugar hyperactivity, people ignore this obvious diabetes symptom. Yes, sugar gives you energy, but it shouldn’t case drastic spikes in mood regulation.

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As with every symptom, the key here is to understand how your organism work. You’re used to seeing yourself in a certain way. Any changes should be an alarm inside of your head. In the case of mood alterations, friends can also be of help. You may want to ask yourself about the frequent complaints from your friends. The problem with ignoring mood-related symptoms is a hectic lifestyle we all lead. Patients tend to allocate symptoms to other, completely different factors. Mood swings are technically more likely to be the result of relationship problems, sleep deprivation, malnutrition and so on. Because knowledge about diabetes is still scarce, people think it’s the last possible thing that can happen. Due to negligence, lack of preemptive care and knowledge, diabetes can appear. It isn’t a single, exclusively hereditary disease. Diabetes is a series of many metabolic diseases and can be due to a number of factors. Pay your medical practitioner a visit if you suspect anything.

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6. Losing Weight

So this is an odd one, considering being overweight is a risk for developing diabetes, and possibly one of the reasons it is overlooked. Losing weight unexpectedly, without changing your eating plan or exercise routine is one of the silent symptoms of diabetes. We often feel so excited about the weight loss we don’t think to look further. However, weight loss comes from two things where diabetes is concerned. Firstly it’s a result of losing water from the excessive urinating and secondly, your body doesn’t absorb all the calories from the food you eat. They usually end up in your urine or in your bloodstream. If diabetes is diagnosed correctly and you start controlling your blood sugar you might gain some weight as a result of your blood sugar levels being more balanced.

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The misconception of this symptom is due to social viewing of the weight losing process. In addition to this, many people don’t even have basic anatomic knowledge. Instead of questioning the reason for the weight loss, people get very excited. Another reason for weight loss is the lack of insulin. The body uses this hormone to break down sugar into fuel for your cells. When insulin can’t do its job, the body starts breaking down protein from your muscles. This condition may last for a long time if not treated. So, if you feel that you’ve been losing weight for no reason, don’t panic. Think rationally and try to think of a reason why it may be happening. If you cannot think of one, see your doctor. He should help you resolve the problem in no time. It’s better to be safe and sorry, especially in the case of such a serious condition like diabetes is.

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7. Blurry Vision

Unless you have already been diagnosed with diabetes it’s not a reason for alarm just yet. Diabetic retinopathy is when the blood vessels at the back of the eye are being destroyed. However, in the early stages of diabetes, the eye lens isn’t focusing correctly because there’s a buildup of glucose and this changes its shape temporarily. The good news is you’re not going blind from diabetes but if left untreated diabetes can cause new blood vessels to actually form in the back part of your eye, the retina, and in turn cause damage to the vessels already there. These changes can get worse and lead to loss of vision and blindness. It’s an early warning sign and if correctly diagnosed and treated you won’t experience the blurred vision anymore because your blood sugar level has stabilized.

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Stabilizing your blood sugar may require certain amounts of effort. This means regular medical check-ups, insulin injections and diet changes. The eyes are the most sensitive part of our bodies. Hence, they are the biggest red flag when something is really wrong. In order to see what’s exactly at fault, visit an expert. Just like the case is with fatigue, blurry vision may also be the cause of many potentially dangerous occurrences. Driving with such a symptom should be avoided at all costs. The moment you notice an ocular problem, you should get help. Like we’ve mentioned, the formation of new vessel may lead to an added level of severity to your diabetes.

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8. Slow-healing Sores or Frequent Infections

A common warning sign of diabetes is slow healing sores, frequent and recurring infections, especially for women. Higher levels of sugar in your urine and vagina become a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and yeast that causes these infections. If you suffer from recurring urinary tract infections it is cause for concern and you should definitely check for diabetes. Normal people see their sores and bruises heal in a timely manner. Diabetes causes your arteries to harden significantly. An important indicator of a healthy organism is flexible artery walls. They need to be in such a state in order to let through more blood, just in case. A good blood flow means that your wound will get coagulated fast.

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High blood sugar prevents the artery walls from being flexible. It denies blood a normal passage. As your blood flow becomes more and more restricted, oxygen will be scarce in the injured areas. Oxygen-rich blood is essential to the successful healing of wounds. This may lead to more problems than you would usually face. Also, an elevated amount of blood sugar affects the red blood cells. They need free passage, as they are the carriers of nutrients. Because the artery walls will be hardened, you can face malnutrition as a consequence. Slow healing may also lead to more serious problems.

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9. Red, Swollen, Tender Gums

Diabetes weakens your body’s ability to fight off germs which increases the risk of infection in your gums and even in the bones that hold your teeth in place. One of the early warning signs of diabetes is gums pulling away from your teeth and your teeth becoming loose. You might also develop sores or pus pockets in your gums. Bad breath and a nasty taste in your mouth is also a sign but these are often explained away as bad oral hygiene. In recent years, dentists are needed more than ever. This is due to a worldwide lack of care for oral health. Because it’s so common, people often mistake a diabetes symptom for simple bad oral health. In fact, many unskilled practitioners may mistakenly diagnose your bad breath as a separate symptom.

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In most cases, your body has the resources to fight germs inside of your oral cavity. Remember how we mentioned that blood sugar hinders the cells’ functioning? This also works for white blood cells, the leukocytes. They are tasked with fighting germs and annihilating any threats. When they aren’t unable to multiply normally, you will see a germ infestation in your mouth. Try washing your teeth more thoroughly and purchase a mouthwash. That way, you can be sure that you are doing everything you can for your health. Also, if your doctor is aware of your care for your mouth, he can brush off any dental symptoms. This leaves him able to look at other options, such as diabetes. An early discovery can always mean much.

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10. Erectile Dysfunction

Diabetes can affect sexual life for both the men and women. In fact, it is one of the common signs of diabetes in men. Men will experience erectile dysfunction or in some cases, they find it difficult to main it during sex. In most situations, diabetes is first diagnosed when the individuals seek treatment.  This is the why talking to your partner can help as it will help you get the treatment earlier.

What happens is that the high blood sugar levels have an impact on the blood vessels, muscles and nerves that are used in getting or maintaining an erection. As mentioned earlier on that diabetic individuals lose sensation in the feet, diabetes directly affects the Autonomic Nervous System. This system controls the narrowing and widening of the blood vessels leading to the penis. As a consequence of this, there is an ineffective blood flow to the penis to maintain an erection. Further, the nerves that assist and maintain an erection are disrupted.

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Men can have what is called Retrograde Ejaculation which refers to the condition when semen moves backward into the bladder after going into the posterior urethra after orgasm. Such individuals complain of cloudy urine after ejaculation. It requires an appropriate diagnosis to determine if the person really has diabetes. A urine sample after ejaculation is normally taken for the test. Apparently, most men are reluctant to talk about this problem. It is important to talk to your doctor if you are having erectile dysfunction. Basically, a simple diagnostic test is carried out to determine your blood sugar levels. The good news is that there is medication that is available including natural supplements to treat the problem.

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11. Headaches

Most people take the headaches for granted and will normally not seek help from their doctors. Headaches can occur for various reasons but if you find that you are having headaches often and are becoming more intense, it’s time to get worried. High or low blood sugar levels can cause headaches and are a clear indication of diabetes. The fluctuations caused by the blood sugar levels result in headaches. These changes are associated with the hormones which are thought to cause tightening of the blood vessels that go to the brain. In most cases, people who have just been diagnosed with diabetes may likely face headaches because they haven’t yet mastered the art of managing their blood sugar levels. The high sugar level is called the hyperglycemia and low sugar level is referred to as hypoglycemia.

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Hypoglycemia is a serious state where glucose levels are low. Glucose is the main source of food for the brain. Individuals having this condition normally face headaches that come suddenly and are easily identifiable. Hyperglycemia is as a result of having too much glucose in the blood circulatory system. There are two ways in which this condition can develop. In type 1 diabetes, it is as a result of lack of insulin while in type 2 diabetes, it is caused by the inability of the body to use insulin appropriately. Although the above are some of the causes of headaches, it’s also deduced that eating too much food, lack of exercise and stress can also be the determining factors. Hyperglycemia can be difficult to detect because the symptoms are not obvious. It’s advisable to seek medical help when you have frequent headaches.

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12. Yeast Infections

The sugary environments are conducive to the growth of yeast and bacteria. A vaginal yeast infection that is called candidiasis, is a condition that is characterized by itching and irritation around the vagina. When the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, women with type 2 diabetes face a greater risk of infection from yeast and bacteria. Most of the women have yeast but don’t usually show the effects of these microorganisms. However, when they grow in number due to the conducive environment they can cause extreme problems. The women who cannot control their diabetes have a problem to fight off infection from the yeast. It becomes a challenge to get rid-off any infection once it has started developing. The infection from yeast will cause itching, general discomfort, and pain with urination. Apart from the vaginal area being affected by this infection, other areas can also equally be affected. Yeast can cause problems in the moist parts of the feet and mouth.

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The notable thing is that the yeast normally grows in environments which have sugar because they feed on sugar. If your diabetes is not being controlled, the blood sugar levels increase. This results in high amounts of yeast growing and you can develop a yeast infection. Therefore, controlling your sugar level may assist reduce this risk of infection. Some yeasts can cause serious health problems and you need to get regular screening processes. You need to consult your doctor to plan a screening schedule. Maintaining your blood sugar levels may help reduce your risk of infection. The positive thing is that treatment for yeast infection for those suffering from diabetes is the same as others who don’t have it. 

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13. Skin Problems

Most of the times the skin problems are clear signs of diabetes. The skin condition problems can be worse for those who already have already diabetes type 2 and it can cause to have new ones. Apart from the flow of blood causing skin problems, they are also caused by the bacteria and fungi. For those with a chronic type 2 diabetes and have hyperglycemia, the blood flow to the skin is reduced. This causes extensive damage to the blood vessels and nerves. Reduced blood flow leads to transformation of the skin’s pigment called the collagen. As a result, the skin’s texture, appearance and the ease to heal is also affected. Worse still, the damaged skin cells can affect you from sweating appropriately and increase your ability to sense temperature and pressure.

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The bacterial infections cause significant problems to those having type 2 diabetes. The skin problems are usually painful, swell and look red. Unfortunately, the problem escalates with an increase in blood sugar levels and they may increase in number and size. The secret is to ensure that the blood sugar levels are always well managed. The extreme bacterial infection may cause deep skin infections that may require your doctor to pierce and drain the fluid. This procedure can be uncomfortable to some people but it’s the only way to go about it in your healing process. The good part about the skin problems is that they are treatable when they are detected earlier. Controlling the blood sugar levels will prevent skin conditions. You need to consult your doctor if you have skin infections so that you can be treated earlier with the antibiotics.

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14. Sweet-Smelling Breath

Not all sweet-smelling breath is good. There are some children who have a sweet-smelling breath and this could be a sign of diabetes. It stands to reason that most children with this smell stand a good chance that they may have diabetes. Studies have also shown that gases in the breath of adults are associated with blood glucose and blood ketone levels who have type 1 and 2 diabetes. It has been proven that approximately one in four children who have type 1 diabetes are not diagnosed until diabetic ketoacidosis has developed. This is an extreme and dangerous hyperglycemic condition and is an indication that your diabetes is out of control. If the diabetes is not being managed appropriately, there is lack of insulin that helps deliver glucose to the cells.

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This lack of glucose which is the main source of energy for the body results in the body using fat instead to get energy. The main byproduct of this process is ketone which then accumulates in the blood and slowly into the urine. One type of ketone referred to as acetone produces a fruity smell. Therefore, if you have ketones in your body then you will be producing this fruity smelling in your breath. The studies have also shown that it is realistically possible that measuring the breaths of children will help identify diabetes earlier. Children undergo blood tests to test if they have diabetes which can be uncomfortable for them. Furthermore, there are studies aimed at linking breath acetone and blood ketone levels. Should it be proven that there is that link, then it would be possible to prevent the development of diabetic ketoacidosis in children with diabetes who are already sick.

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15. Hearing loss

When we talk about hearing loss, it’s associated with old age. It comes after years of exposure to loud noises and sounds. It is also possible to suffer hearing loss as the result of an accident or injury. Some infections can cause severe and lasting damage to the hearing. When you suffer from hearing loss, sound signals are travel from your ear to your brain. There are two main ways in which your body suffers hearing loss. The first is damage to the auditory nerve. This causes permanent hearing loss and is age-related. The second is a build-up of fluids or a blockage in the ear. This comes from an earwax residue, an ear infection, a perforated eardrum or damage to any of the delicate bones inside the ear. Diabetes is being increasingly linked to hearing loss.

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They conducted hearing tests on a sample of economically active Americans. It was found that those with diabetes or pre-diabetes were more likely to have some form of mild hearing loss. Researchers looked at other reasons for hearing loss such as exposure to consistent loud noise, age, and economic status. Even factoring these issues into the equation did not change the results. There was a definite link between diabetes and hearing loss. It seems that diabetes and the raised glucose levels it causes may decrease the amount of blood and oxygen that gets to the sensitive nerves and blood vessels of the ear. This lack of oxygen causes damage to the ear which results in hearing loss.

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16. Snoring

Sleep apnea is a breathing problem that the sufferer experiences during sleep. It is a widespread disorder that has its roots in several health issues. When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops for 10 seconds or longer while you are sleeping. There is a disruption in the oxygen supply to the brain and body when you stop breathing. Sleep apnea sufferers stop breathing like this more than once a night. There are three types of sleep apnea. The first is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It is the most common form of sleep apnea. The throat muscles relax during deep sleep, disrupting the breathing. The second type is Central Sleep Apnea. It occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to your breathing muscles, thereby disrupting the breathing. The final type is Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome. It’s quite rare and is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

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When you have sleep apnea, you tend to snore very loudly. Your partner or an observer may see you have an episode where you stop breathing. You might wake up suddenly in the middle of the night feeling breathless. It leaves you tired and irritated because you feel like you haven’t slept well. After much research, it seems that there is a link between OSA and diabetes. A study has found that people with severe OSA are up to 30% more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Those with mild to moderate OSA are at about a 23% greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes. The researchers took factors such as age, weight, and lifestyle into account when reaching their conclusions. OSA raises the blood sugar levels. It disrupts the supply of oxygen to the lungs. This, in turn, interrupts the metabolism of glucose.

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17. Dry scalp

If you find yourself struggling with dry scalp, it could be a symptom of diabetes. This is a symptom that won’t appear in isolation. It will occur in conjunction with other symptoms.
Dry scalp and dandruff are not the same. They both present with an itchy scalp and falling white flakes. Dry scalp occurs when the skin gets irritated and flakes off the scalp. Dandruff is caused by an oversupply of oil on the scalp. The oil captures excess dead skin cells. They build up, and then they fall from the scalp. Before you jump to conclusions, take the time to figure out which one of the two you have. You can tell the difference by looking at the appearance of the flakes. Dandruff flakes are more prominent and look oily. The skin flakes shed when you have dry scalp are smaller and look less-hydrated.

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A dry scalp is the same as dry skin. A simple lack of moisture causes it. In fact, dry scalp is usually accompanied by dry skin on other areas of the body. Exposure to cold, dry air can trigger it. As you age, the skin on your scalp also dries out. An allergy to something your scalp came into contact with can also result in a dry scalp. It’s possible you may be allergic to the shampoo or styling gel you use. The reason that dry scalp may be diabetes indicates that the skin cells become dehydrated. When your glucose levels are high, the body responds by causing excessive urination to get rid of it. At the same time, the body is losing a lot of fluids. This is what results in the excessive thirst that is a symptom of diabetes. It also results in the drying out of the skin and scalp.

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18. “Pins and Needles” Sensation in Hands and Feet

One of the more common symptoms of diabetes is an unexplained tingling in your arms, legs, hands, and feet. We often describe it as “pins and needles”. This is caused by peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage. It is a result of high blood glucose levels damaging nerves and nerve endings, as well as blood vessels. The causes of 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. Tingling and numbness are usually the earliest signs of Type 2 diabetes.

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The most common questions asked when a person is diagnosed with diabetes include:

  • What type of diabetes do I have?
  • How will I be able to manage it?
  • Do I need to take any kind of medication?
  • Do I need to check my blood sugar? If so, how often and when?
  • What should my blood sugar level be?
  • Is there a way I can prevent any of the complications like heart, kidney and eye diseases?
  • What kind of eating plan should I follow?
  • What are healthy fats and sugars?
  • Can I still work and travel?
  • Will I die?

If you have been diagnosed with any of the diabetes types it’s important to remember it isn’t a death sentence. While there isn’t a cure, making the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle will keep in under control and you can continue to lead a normal life. It is only when we ignore the early warning signs that diabetes can, in fact, become life-threatening.

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