The symptoms may be silent. Diabetes is a disease that does damage without obvious clinical signs and symptoms. It’s a disease that slowly and relentlessly affects every organ in your body while not always announcing its presence. As a physician, I’ve had patients who felt relatively well and were stunned to find their blood sugar level was at diabetic levels. Needless to say, that’s not a happy surprise.
You may be familiar with some of the more obvious signs and symptoms of diabetes such as fatigue, more frequent urination, increased thirst and blurred vision, but there are other less apparent ones you may not notice until you visit your doctor one day and discover you have an abnormal blood sugar level. Here are some “other” signs that you could have diabetes.
Frequent Yeast Infections
Yeast thrive in a high-sugar environment. For this reason, one of the first signs of diabetes may be frequent yeast infections. Yeast infections may involve a woman’s vaginal region or appear in other moist areas of the body such as under skin folds. Bladder infections are also more common in people with diabetes. Yeast or bladder infections that keep recurring or don’t go away with treatment deserve evaluation and a blood sugar check.
Wounds That Heal Slowly
High blood sugar levels make it more difficult for your body to fight off infection. It also causes narrowing of blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to areas that are injured. People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease and have red, swollen gums that bleed easily. If your cuts and scrapes are slow to heal or your gums bleed frequently, see your doctor.
Diabetes can affect your vision too, even in the early stages. High blood sugar levels may cause swelling behind the lenses of your eye. This can lead to blurry vision or difficulty focusing. If you notice a change in your vision, it may be more than just “old age.” It means it’s time for a blood sugar check. Diabetics also have a higher risk of other eye complications including glaucoma, retinopathy and cataracts.
Diabetes affects the brain too. Mental confusion, changes in memory and brain fog can be an early sign of diabetes. If you’re having trouble remembering things too often and you’re chalking it up to age, get your blood sugar checked.
Surprisingly, digestive issues can be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes. Diabetics may experience a slow-down in how rapidly food leaves their stomach, a condition known as gastroparesis. The most frequent symptoms of gastroparesis are nausea, bloating, early fullness and sometimes heartburn after meals.
The Bottom Line?
Diabetes is a disease that many people have and don’t know it. Be aware of these five signs of “silent diabetes,” and see your doctor if you have them.