If you’re reading this, having perhaps found it through your favourite search engine, then it’s likely that you or someone you know has, or thinks they have, diabetes. If you think something is wrong with you then it’s best to see your doctor as soon possible. If nothing else it may allow you to rule out anything sinister (we’ve all had those 4am thoughts where you think a slight headache is actually a malignant brain tumour!) and so set your mind at ease. But if you are worried about diabetes, what are the common symptoms?
â€˘ Increased thirst
Your mouth will feel dry and you will want to knock back glass after glass of water.
â€˘ Peeing all the time
All that water has to go somewhere!
You will feel tired all the time, even after a good night’s sleep or after a lazy weekend of not doing very much. No matter how much you sleep your brain will feel “cloudy” and you will want to head back to bed. This may come on gradually and can often be written off as a symptom of being stressed about work, family or other things.
â€˘ Weight loss
You keep cramming down the burgers but the pounds just keep slipping away.
â€˘ Blurred vision
When your blood glucose is very high it can change the shape of your eye, causing blurred vision.
â€˘ Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
Your pee will contain lots and lots of sugar. And of course, sugar + warmth = infections in both men and women.
â€˘ Cuts and sores taking ages to heal
Your body finds it difficult to repair itself and minor cuts may take a long time to heal.
â€˘ General malaise
With undiagnosed diabetes your body is under a great deal of strain; so lots of minor things that seem to be going wrong with your body may be diabetes-related. Outbreaks of eczema, patches of dry skin, aches and pain, insomnia and lots of other little things may be significant.
Of course, not all of these symptoms will appear at the same time and different people with have different severities of symptom. Some people may have the classic tiredness symptoms without the thirst; others may have weight loss but without significant tiredness.
In my case I would say the symptoms kicked in over about four months. In about August 2005, when I was 28, I was generally more tired than usual and I noticed that I didnâ€™t really have the energy to see late shows at the Edinburgh Festival (this was probably a good thing), preferring to go home to bed instead. A month or so after that I was drinking a lot, peeing a lot and was extremely tired and pretty irritable (even by my standards).
I would come home after work on a Friday, have a very lazy weekend of doing nothing and would return to work on Monday just as tired as I had been on Friday. It seemed odd at the time that nothing could shake the tiredness.
I was finally diagnosed in December 2005 after going to my GP after seemingly everything went wrong at the same time – really dry skin, sleeping badly, drinking a lot, peeing a lot, weight loss and being very, very tired and grumpy all the time.
What to do if you think you have diabetes
As with any issue relating to your health, trust your instincts – if you feel something is wrong go to your doctor for a check up. Some pharmacists are now also offering screening, which may help to rule out diabetes quickly and easily.
Testing for diabetes involves either giving a urine sample or a very quick finger-prick which gives a tiny sample of blood that is analysed in a few seconds. Most diabetics will check their blood in this way about four or five times a day and it doesnâ€™t hurt a bit, so please do get yourself checked out if youâ€™re worried.