Info on diabetes symptoms and treatments
Diabetes mellitus is a serious condition marked by the body's inability to produce or properly use insulin, a hormone essential to the regulation of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. If blood sugar is not properly regulated, your body cannot metabolize properly and your brain cannot get enough energy. Thus, if left untreated, diabetes can lead to several serious side effects, including heart, kidney and liver disease, blindness and nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy).
Because diabetes has such serious effects and is fairly easy to regulate once diagnosed, it is important to recognize diabetic symptoms and consult your doctor as soon as they appear. Diabetes' first symptoms include:
- Excessive urination
- Increased appetite but no significant weight gain
- Itching, particularly on the skin of the hands, feet and genitals
- Pain in the lower back and limbs that is not alleviated by painkillers
- General weakness and fatigue
In a child, diabetes symptoms can include excessive desire for cold, sugary drinks, frequent bedwetting, apathy, irritability and difficulties concentrating and functioning in school. Children may also show sudden, marked weight loss.
Type 1 Diabetes
Usually, diabetes in children is type one diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. This form of the disease occurs naturally and is characterized by the inability to produce insulin naturally. People with type I diabetes are dependent on insulin injections or pumps, and there is no cure for type 1 diabetes.
Only about 10 percent of diabetics are type 1—the majority have type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. This form of the disease usually results from obesity and is characterized by low insulin production or an inability to properly use insulin. Type II diabetes can usually be controlled through diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms
In untreated, mismanaged or severe cases of diabetes, diabetic neuropathy can occur. Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include:
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
- Excessive sweating or lack of perspiration
- Vaginal dryness (women) or erectile dysfunction (men)
- Vision problems
Feet are at particular risk for diabetic neuropathy and problems associated with it. In addition to tingling and numbness, diabetic feet symptoms include slow-healing cuts or blisters, or an inability to sense injuries to the feet. It is important to address these issues immediately, as untreated foot neuropathy can lead to amputation.