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How do I know if I have diabetes?

Posted on 23-11-2015

If you notice that you have dropped a size in trousers without dieting, you have no energy and go to the bathroom a lot, perhaps you should pay attention to your body and observe yourself.

Diabetes is a very common condition. The real prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in Spain is now 13.8% according to the study carried out in 2011 and involving 5,800 people over the age of 18 from all over the country. 

According to Dr. Jose Luis Prada, Head of Hospiten Estepona Internal Medicine Service, “There are a great many people in Spain who are unaware they have this condition, and for that reason, recognizing the symptoms in time is essential to avoiding problems in the future. If diabetes is not treated in time, it may generate serious complications affecting the kidneys, the heart, blindness or even amputation of a limb or a diabetic coma, amongst others.

What symptoms should I be looking out for?

Being very thirsty and needing to urinate frequently. Glucose (‘sugar’) retains liquid (by osmosis), so when the concentration of sugar in the blood is high, we feel thirsty. Furthermore, when blood sugar is high, more glucose passes to the urine washing the water away with it and that is why we urinate in more quantity and frequency.

Unusual hunger. Insulin is the hormone diabetics need. Its function is to facilitate glucose going into your cells. If there is no insulin, glucose will remain outside the cell, i.e. in the blood. In response to the lack of energy in the cells, the brain sends signals telling the body to eat more.

Weakness and tiredness. For the same reason, the lack of glucose in the cell (the cell’s fuel) produces weakness and tiredness.

Weight loss. The body cannot consume glucose, so it consumes other molecules, basically fat, with the resulting weight loss.

Blurred vision. This appears in advanced stages of diabetes, because as a result of years of high blood sugar, the blood begins to affect the retina.

Wounds that take time to heal and frequent infections. Sugar is also used by bacteria. A high sugar level in any medium (blood, urine, skin,…) make it an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and as a result infection sets in, which also the reason wounds take longer to heal when diabetes is not kept under control.

Other factors to take into account:

•        Being overweight: being overweight is one of the main factors in the development of diabetes.

•        Being diabetic during pregnancy (gestational diabetes): not all women with gestational diabetes will have diabetes in the future, although they will be at greater risk.

•        Having a family history of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (most predominant in adults) has a major hereditary factor. 

It is important to pay attention to the possible signs of diabetes to detect the disease in the early stages, before it causes damage to the body. But, as diabetes does not always show symptoms at the beginning, Dr. Prada recommends doing blood sugar tests regularly as part of a regular check-up, at least once a year from the age of twenty on. If your levels are high, your doctor can start treatment immediately.

With your doctor’s instructions and taking an active part in the treatment, you’ll be able to manage your diabetes and lead a normal, healthy life.