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Know the warning signs of Diabetes


Know the warning signs of DiabetesDiabetes is often called the 'silent killer' because of its easy-to-miss signs (hence 'silent'), but ability to wreck havoc through multiple organ damage (hence a potential 'killer'). In diabetes high blood glucose acts like a poison; it is often accompanied by high blood pressure and abnormal blood lipids, forming an evil team to harm the individual.

The cells in your body rely on glucose for energy; hence glucose is essential for you to function properly. You may take some amount of glucose directly eg., in fruits; but the majority is derived from breakdown in the intestine of carbohydrates like starch present in rice, bread, potato etc. Glucose is transported to all the cells in the body through the bloodstream, which is like an elaborate road and rail network in your body.

However, in order to use the glucose, your body needs insulin. This is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin is like a key that opens the 'locks' on cells to allow entry of glucose. People with type 1 diabetes no longer make insulin to help their bodies use glucose (as if their pancreas has declared a lockout), so they have to rely on regular insulin injections. People with type 2 diabetes may have enough insulin, at least initially, but they cannot use it well (as if the 'locks' on cells are defective, so the key cannot open them); they're insulin resistant. Many of the signs and symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar.

Warning Signs of Diabetes
Sometimes diabetes can develop without any warnings signs. In fact, about a third of all people who have diabetes don't know they have it; most of them have Type 2 diabetes. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes and determine if you should be tested, even if you have none of the warning signs.
Common warnings signs of diabetes include: Increased thirst or dry mouth
Frequent urination in large volumes
Increased hunger
Unexplained weight loss (even though you may be eating more)
Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
Frequent infections (including fungal infections of the private parts) or cuts that take a long time to heal
Blurred vision

Because diabetes can lead to serious health complications, it's important to be aware of the signs of diabetes. If you have any of the above mentioned warnings signs of diabetes, give your doctor a call and schedule a diabetes test. With the right diabetes diet, regular exercise, and medications, if needed, you can manage diabetes and live an active, productive life.

Contributed by: Prof Subhankar Chowdhury, DTM&H, MD, DM, MRCP (UK)
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