Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes: What to Look For and How it’s Treated
I was 6 years old when I became seriously ill. My parents thought I had a bad case of the flu. I lost about 20 pounds in less than one week. It took almost two weeks from the onset of my symptoms until I had a concrete diagnosis. My parents did not know the signs and symptoms of diabetes. They had not even heard of the disease. Read on to learn what signs and symptoms to look for in both children and adults.
An Overview of Diabetes in Children
If you’re a parent, you want to make sure your children are safe and healthy. With all the dangers out there, you rarely stop to think about what may be happening within their own bodies.
Most children who are diagnosed with diabetes have what is called “Type 1.” Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. An auto-immune disease means “An illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system.”
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that helps us use the energy (carbohydrate) we get from food.
Without insulin, the energy that your body needs cannot get into your cells. I’ll discuss that in further detail shortly.
An Overview of Diabetes in Adults
Usually an adult who is diagnosed with diabetes is diagnosed with Type 2. There are rare cases when an adult (or older teen) is diagnosed with Type 1, but they are few and far between.
Adults may live with Type 2 diabetes for months, or even years, before a complication sends them to the doctor. Check out one UK man’s story about undiagnosed diabetes HERE.
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes onset include excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, blurred vision, nerve pain & numbness, slow-healing wounds, and dark skin patches.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, do NOT ignore them! Make an appointment with your doctor for an exam and blood tests. ESPECIALLY if you have a family history of diabetes.
So, What Happens? (What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?)
If the energy you get from food cannot get into your cells, it just floats around in your blood stream. This can cause damage in many areas.
Glucose is the energy source your body uses. It comes from the carbohydrates you eat. Glucose can damage your kidneys, eyes, liver, heart and limbs.
Over time, elevated blood glucose levels can cause poor healing, poor circulation, kidney and heart disease, blindness, and loss of limbs. Short-term signs and symptoms of diabetes include flu-like symptoms.
Nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, excessive urination and excessive hunger are all common signs and symptoms of diabetes. Onset of diabetes can cause sudden, unexpected weight loss, especially in children. You may also notice fruity or sweet-smelling breath, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty breathing.
These are all signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. It means the body is burning fat instead of carbohydrate for energy and spilling ketones into the blood. This sounds great if you’re on the “Atkins Diet,” but not if you’re a person with diabetes. Excess ketones in the blood make it acidic, and that is a very dangerous thing.
How Do Doctors Treat Diabetes?
People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes need to be treated with a carbohydrate-controlled diet, however, the medication for each type can be very different.
Type 1 Treatment:
For those living with Type 1 diabetes, insulin is the medication. There are different types of insulins: rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. The length of action time refers to both the time it takes for the insulin the begin working and the length of time for which it works.
Humalog, Novolog, Apidra
Starts working in 10-30 minutes, peaks at 30 minutes-3 hours, and lasts for 3-5 hours.
Starts working in 30 minutes to 1 hour, peaks in 2-5 hours, and lasts for up to 12 hours.
Begins working in 1.5-4 hours, peaks in 4-12 hours, and lasts up to 24 hours.
Starts to work in 45 minutes to 4 hours, has a minimal peak, and lasts around 22-24 hours. This type of insulin is used as a steady basal insulin to help maintainsugar levels throughout
the day and night.
Type 2 Treatment:
People with Type 2 diabetes can often manage their disease with diet, glucose monitoring, and exercise alone, but when that isn’t enough, oral medications (pills) come into play.
Oral Medication Types
Biguanides: Metformin (Glucophage)
Restricts the amount of glucose released from the liver.
Sulfonylureas: Glimepiride (Amaryl), Glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase), Glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)
These medications stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin, both right after a meal and then over several hours.
Meglitinides: Repaglinide (Prandin), D-Phenylalanine Derivatives: Nateglinide (Starlix)
These help the pancreas release more insulin right after a meal.
Herbs for Diabetes:
For both types of diabetes, herbal supplements can help, as long as you discuss them with your doctor first. One great herbal supplement is our very own Blood Glucose. Click on the image below for a link to learn more about it and to purchase the product. It’s a really great all-natural herb to help control blood sugar levels.