Diabetes can be a debilitating, potentially life-threatening disease, or it can be a challenge that is successfully managed with medicine and healthy living—but it should never be ignored.
Five Red Flags for Diabetes
If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one who has or might have diabetes, our team at Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group suggests looking for these five warning signs.
- Increased Hunger or Fatigue: Without sufficient insulin to carry the glucose into the cells, they don’t receive the fuel they need, and the body runs out of gas, which triggers hunger and fatigue.
- Increased Thirst or Urination: The urge to evacuate the bladder more than seven times per 24 hours may indicate that the kidneys are struggling to reabsorb high levels of glucose. As a result, they create more urine, which means peeing more, which increases thirst, and so on.
- Itchy Skin & Dry Mouth: Because the body is making more urine, it exhausts its fluid reserves. As a result, the dermis and oral cavity can both become dehydrated, creating dry mouth and/or itchy skin.
- Blurred Vision or Headaches: Since diabetes can severely affect the body’s fluid levels, the ocular lens can swell and lose focus. Dehydration can also cause headaches.
- Unexplained Weight Loss, Nausea, or Vomiting: When your body can’t refuel properly from digestion, it consumes its muscle and fat stores, resulting in weight loss. Burning fat will also produce ketones, which can accumulate in the blood and lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious, potentially fatal condition.
How You Can Help
If you suspect diabetes may be affecting someone you know, there are ways you can help.
Learn about diabetes and how diet and exercise help to manage the disease. Having a positive support system at home and among friends makes adopting a healthy lifestyle easier.
Know when to scold and when to fold; in other words, always remember that the person with diabetes is the responsible party, and not you. Rather than increasing stress by badgering or micromanaging, encourage better stress management through prescriptive fitness, conversation, meditation, or other leisure pursuits.
Bouncing blood sugar levels can produce mood swings, irritability, jitteriness, and anxiety. Better glucose management helps maintain a more even keel, and support group meetings or counseling may also help patients and caregivers cope with the special stresses that come with diabetes.
Diabetes can also affect sex (e.g., vaginal dryness, genital nerve damage, erectile dysfunction, and a decrease in libido). It’s especially important to discuss any sexual dysfunction or collateral issues (like effects on self-esteem, or on gender-role perceptions) openly and honestly with partners and doctors. Your primary care physician may also be able to provide medical assistance.
Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group is here to help you. We can provide information about diagnosing and managing diabetes. We also offer health and wellness education on diabetes and other major illnesses to everyone in our medical group membership. Contact us at (800) 655-9999 to learn more.