Symptoms of diabetes you should look out for

Diabetes is a non-communicable disease whereby the body ofthe affected is in a constant hyperglycemic state. Hyperglycemia refers to ahigh amount of sugar in one’s blood. Exposure of this level of sugar to thehuman body for a long period of time predisposes it to several fatal anddebilitating complications such as stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, visiondisturbances and nerve problems.

Unfortunately, majority of the diabeticpatient at early stage is asymptomatic, that means there is no way clinicallyfor them to know what is coming unless blood test is carried out. In light ofthis fact, many people only find out that they have diabetes aftercomplications have struck.

 However, symptoms might appear to the lucky ones. There are:

  • Increase in thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increase in appetite (polyphagia)
  • Increase in frequency of urination (polyuria)
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Infection of private parts

Should you experience any of the symptoms stated above, donot hesitate to pay a visit to your nearest doctor for further evaluation. Theycan be caused by other conditions thus confirmatory blood test will beperformed to you. Current practice in Malaysia is to take your blood sample,preferably from your vein and usually the doctor will ask you to fast for 8 hoursbefore coming to the clinic or hospital.

A reading of more than 7 mmol/Lwarrants diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type 2. If you are not fasting, thenthe cutoff point is 11.1 mmol/L. On the other hand, if the number doesn’texceed the mentioned values, you will still be asked to undergo additionalinvestigation, which is oral glucose tolerancetest(OGTT). This test requires you to drink in sugar water before carrying anotherblood test which uses the same values as stated above.

If you do not experience any of the symptoms of diabetes, it is advisable for you to be proactive. Equip yourselves with the knowledge of this disease and familiarize with its risk factors. Blood testing should be carried out for all adults who are overweight with BMI more than 23 or having waist circumference exceeding 90 cm for men and 80 cm for women and possessing one or more of the following conditions:

  • First- degree relative with diabetes
  • History of heart problems
  • Blood pressure of more than 140/90 mmHg or under hypertension treatment
  • Previous testing of OGTT showed impaired tolerance
  • High in bad cholesterol level and low in good cholesterol level
  • Women who delivered a baby weighing more than 4 kg or diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Physical inactivity
  • Under antipsychotic drugs (olanzapine)

Still without any of the points above? You can still do the testing after the age of 30 and it should be repeated annually.

Other than that, there are symptoms of diabetes’ complications that you need to be aware of. Blurring of vision can be the sign of diabetic retinopathy, a condition whereby the blood vessels supplying the eye are being damaged by the disease process. Again, do not procrastinate in bringing yourself to the doctor for the check-up after realizing the eyesight disturbances although you have never been diagnosed with diabetes before. Besides that, when you are feeling pin-prick sensation at the soles of your feet or hands, it can be due to diabetic neuropathy. Like retinopathy, the culprit behind it is the injured blood vessels of the nerves.

According to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey, the prevalence of diabetes is on the rise for all ages. There is also an increasing trend in prevalence with age. It is doubtful that without public awareness, this non-communicable disease can be fought off with ease. To start identifying and treating them early, there must be more cohesion between the healthcare professionals, government policy and members of the Malaysian society so that the burden of the disease can be reduced. However, you can start it by following the points stated above and help to spread it around to your family members and friends. Learn more about diabetes at .

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