More than 11 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, but as common as this disease is, many people don’t realize that it is also the nation’s seventh-leading cause of death. That’s why understanding its symptoms is essential to your health and overall vitality.
Understanding the symptoms of diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that interferes with the body’s ability to change food into energy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When you eat, food is broken down into sugar (glucose), which enters the bloodstream. In response, the pancreas releases insulin, which allows the sugar to enter the body’s cells for energy.
In diabetes, however, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells become resistant to its effects. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health consequences such as stroke, heart disease, nerve and kidney damage, vision loss and more.
Signs of diabetes by type
“Individuals can have different experiences, but common symptoms include urinating often, feeling thirsty, feeling very hungry even after eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, weight loss and slow-healing cuts,” says Patricia Abernathy, a certified diabetes care and education specialist at Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago.
However, symptoms of diabetes can vary based on the type of diabetes you have.
Prediabetes is a serious health condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, according to the CDC.
Though prediabetes usually has no signs or symptoms, people who have it may notice darkened skin on certain body parts, according to the Mayo Clinic. The most commonly affected areas include the neck, armpits and groin.
“Prediabetes blood glucose levels fall in a lower range than diabetes, so it is a good time for a person to develop healthy lifestyle behaviors to learn how to keep their blood glucose in a healthy range to prevent further progression to diabetes,” Abernathy notes.
Type 1 diabetes symptoms
Type 1 diabetes, once known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, is a form of diabetes that typically emerges in children, teens and young adults, although it can occur at any age. It is less prevalent than type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC, accounting for about five percent to 10 percent of all diabetes cases. Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association notes that the common signs of type 1 diabetes are: