According to the Centers For Disease Control, over 29 million Americans are living with diabetes. And that number only seems to be getting higher.
It’s a difficult enough disease to handle on its own, but it also increases its sufferers’ risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, toe, foot, and leg amputation — and death.
These risks can be lessened with treatment, but the problem is that one in four people with diabetes don’t know they have it.
And that’s why we’ve compiled this helpful list of warning signs that will help you figure out if you have diabetes.
Note that this article in no way constitutes medical advice. If you have concerns about your health, you should always consult your doctor.
1. Excessive thirst and urination.
This is one of the most common signs of diabetes. If you can’t seem to quench your thirst and find yourself going to the bathroom way more than usual, this may be due to excess glucose in your blood.
When this happens, the kidneys have to work extra hard to filter out the sugar, which causes all the urination. The excessive urination then leads to dehydration, which is what brings on the constant feeling of thirst.
2. Unexplained weight loss and constant hunger.
This refers to a sudden period of weight loss that has nothing to do with dieting or exercise. It’s hard to gauge just how much weight loss you should be concerned about, but if you lose about five percent of your body weight in six months to a year, you should definitely see a doctor.
This weight loss can be partially blamed on the loss of calories caused by frequent urination, but diabetes also keeps the sugars in food from reaching a person’s cells, which is what causes the hunger pangs.
3. Chronic fatigue.
If you’re feeling tired all the time and are experiencing other symptoms on this list, it could be a result of dehydration from constant urination. But even if you’re not excessively going to the bathroom, the fatigue could also be attributed to diabetes because your body is having trouble using sugar to supply you with energy.
via A.V. Club
4. Blurred vision.
If you’re experiencing sudden vision blurring, this could be the result of excess glucose thickening your blood. When this happens, your body pulls fluid from surrounding tissue to compensate for this thick blood, and the eyes are no exception.
With this decrease in fluid from your eyes’ lenses, it becomes harder to focus your vision. If left untreated, diabetes can form new blood vessels in your retina, which introduces the risk of potential vision impairment or even total blindness.
5. Slow-healing sores.
It’s unknown at this time what about diabetes causes wounds to heal slower than usual, but it seems to be a common symptom. It’s possible that high blood sugar levels interfere with the body’s natural healing process, but more research into this phenomenon is required to get any conclusive information.
via Jenny 54
6. More frequent infections.
Much like the effect of diabetes on the healing process, there’s no definitive answer as to why people with diabetes are more prone to infection than people without it. But doctors and sufferers alike seem to agree that increased susceptibility to infection is a common symptom of diabetes.
Female diabetes patients can apparently expect a particular increase in bladder and vaginal infections.
via James Erich
7. Tingling, burning or numbness in your hands and feet.
Also called diabetic neuropathy, these sensations are the result of nerve damage resulting from high blood sugar. The thicker, sugar-rich blood tends to overpower the body’s nerve fibers, particularly in the legs and feet.
via Alice Day / Shutterstock
8. Sudden problems with the skin.
One of the most obvious signs of diabetes are the sudden on-set of a variety of possible skin conditions. The disease can cause the formation of boils, carbuncles and, in rare cases, large blisters known asbullosis diabeticorum.
Diabetes can also affect skin coloration by causing vitiligo, which lightens patches of the sufferer’s skin, or acanthosis nigricans, which is known to darken the skin around the neck and armpits.
Main image via James Erich