You’re approaching 50 and can’t help but notice the signs of aging—your vision and hearing aren’t what they used to be, and it seems your cuts and bruises take longer to heal. But before you write off those and other symptoms as a normal part of getting older, be forewarned that they actually might be indicators of Diabetes.
Your risk of developing type 2 Diabetes increases as we age, especially being overweight (even if by only 10 pounds). Factors such as a family history, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol, and being African American, Latino, American Indian, or Asian also can put you at increased risk. Type 2 Diabetes is considered “silent” because the signs are subtle. In fact, seven million Americans have it and don’t know it.
Type 2 Diabetes affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), the body’s main source of fuel. While a healthy body turns glucose into energy, in people with type 2 Diabetes the glucose continues to build, leading to high blood sugar, causing a variety of symptoms.
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) recommends asking your doctor about getting tested for Diabetes if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, particularly if you are 45 or older.
- Finding it more difficult to see or hear clearly? Everyone around seems to be mumbling all of the sudden and you find yourself squinting to clear your blurry vision. Hearing loss is twice as common in people with Diabetes as in those who don’t have the disease, according to research. Doctors aren’t sure why, but they believe it might be because Diabetes damages blood vessels and nerves in the body, including those in the ear. Build-up of glucose in the blood can damage your eyesight, too, by distorting the shape of the lens in your eye and making your vision blurry.
- Feeling tired and grouchy? You’re getting older, so you get tired more easily, right? It could be because with type 2 Diabetes the body isn’t effectively converting glucose to energy, increasing exhaustion. For many people, feeling tired causes irritability.
- Experiencing odd symptoms? Other unexpected indications of Diabetes include dry, itchy skin, the development of darkening and velvety patches of skin around the neck or other parts of the body, cuts and bruises that don’t heal, and tingling and numbness of the hands and feet. Many of these symptoms occur because the blood vessels and nerves are damaged by the excessive amounts of glucose.
- Feeling hungry all the time? When the body doesn’t use glucose effectively, it needs more fuel, so you feel hungry and eat frequently.
- Going to the bathroom a lot but always thirsty? These signs of Diabetes are related. With Diabetes, the body tries to get rid of the glucose that’s building in the blood with frequent urination. That causes lost fluid leading to dehydration and thirst.
The good news is that Diabetes is manageable. A Diabetes educator can help people with pre-Diabetes or Diabetes to be as healthy as possible by talking with them about the best ways to manage their condition to fit their lifestyle.
Source: American Association of Diabetes Educators