7 Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes affects millions of people around the world, and while it’s still possible to treat it and lead a healthy life, the sooner you catch the disease, the easier it will be to manage. Here are seven early signs and symptoms of diabetes that you should keep an eye out for in yourself or your loved ones. If you think you might have diabetes, don’t hesitate to seek medical help right away. The sooner you start treatment, the more likely you are to prevent long-term damage to your body.

1) Fasting Blood Sugar Above 100 mg/dL Blood sugar is a carbohydrate, so when blood sugar levels become higher than normal, it may indicate that too many carbohydrates are in your diet. High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other health complications. Keep track of your fasting blood sugar level if you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. You can do so with an A1C test by taking a simple finger prick sample at home and sending it off to your doctor's office for analysis. Be sure to fast for eight hours before you take a test; taking a sample while you’re eating could give you inaccurate results. Your doctor will tell you what normal numbers are for your age group.

2) Extreme Hunger Are you constantly hungry? How many times have you eaten a meal and been hungry an hour later? If you’re someone who overeats or often finds yourself binging on snacks, it may be a sign that your body is out of balance. Overeating indicates that your blood sugar is off. When our blood sugar rises above normal levels we experience these cravings for more food and you may need insulin plant. When our blood sugar falls below normal levels, we feel starved and are driven to eat again to keep our energy level stable. If you’re experiencing extreme hunger and constant cravings, talk to your doctor about diabetes as well as other possible causes.

3) Frequent Urination One early sign that you could have diabetes is an increased need to urinate, particularly at night. While frequent urination might seem like a minor issue, it's actually one of several early signs of type 2 diabetes. In fact, if you have unexplained nighttime urination along with other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or fatigue, it's time to see your doctor. When your body becomes resistant to insulin—either because your pancreas isn't producing enough or cells aren't responding appropriately—your blood sugar levels rise. And when blood sugar levels rise excessively (hyperglycemia), you end up peeing out lots of glucose in order to bring things back into balance.

4) Excessive Thirst More than 30 million people in America have diabetes, with another 86 million having pre-diabetes. If you’re one of these people, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal—but not high enough to be diagnosed as a diabetic. Pre-diabetes is considered a warning sign for type 2 diabetes (the kind associated with obesity), meaning that if you don’t take action now, it can progress into something worse. Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that affects every organ in your body, so it’s important to get yourself checked out by a doctor.

5) Weight Loss Without Trying You may have diabetes if you have tingling, numbness, or pain in your hands or feet. You may notice that they are cold to touch, especially first thing in the morning. This symptom can be one of many early warning signs that something is wrong. You could have nerve damage due to poor blood flow, or it could mean that your glucose levels are elevated and you’re at risk for diabetes. According to KidsHealth from Nemours, approximately 50 percent of people with diabetes will experience these symptoms at some point during their life. Talk to your doctor about regular foot checks if you notice any problems with your feet.

6) Tingling, Numbness, or Pain in Hands and Feet One early sign of diabetes is tingling, numbness, or pain in your hands or feet. These symptoms are caused by nerve damage that occurs when there’s too much sugar in your blood. When you have diabetes, it takes more time for your body to use glucose as energy so some is converted to fat, which causes nerve damage. To avoid nerve damage due to diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels in good control. Also make sure you don’t have a circulation problem that could be made worse by poor circulation.

7) Blurred Vision Blurred vision can be a symptom of diabetes, according to Andrew Scheman, M.D., director of clinical research at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. When you have diabetes, your blood glucose levels are elevated, which means there is extra glucose in your bloodstream. High blood sugar can damage small blood vessels in your eyes, making them swell and become inflamed. This may lead to blurry vision or trouble with light sensitivity or glare from oncoming headlights—sometimes called photic driving. If you experience any changes in your eyesight while you’re at home (for example, blurry vision after eating), contact your doctor right away so they can investigate further and determine whether it might be related to your diabetes.