Diabetes affects roughly 29.1 million Americans, and with such a high prevalence most people think they know just about everything in regards to the disease. For example, you probably know diabetes is a condition that affects blood sugar. You also know diet and exercise are essential for proper management. You may even be aware of diabetes symptoms, including excessive thirst, blurry vision and the inability to heal sores and injuries. This is all pretty common knowledge, so you may be wondering what is left to learn about diabetes.
Well, believe it or not, there are some symptoms that you may not be as aware of, and if you’re not, you could be overlooking tell-tale signs that you are at risk for diabetes.
As a life-long condition diabetes can affect your quality of life, and you’ll have to embark on lifestyle changes just to keep it in line. But if you recognize these surprising symptoms you can avoid a diagnosis of diabetes and the complications which come along with it.
Surprising symptoms of diabetes
Your hearing is changing
It is quite easy to blame hearing changes on aging because we know hearing can be affected as we get older. But diabetes, too, can impact your hearing and be the reason you continuously increase the volume on your TV.
A study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that hearing loss can be caused by prediabetes. Higher than normal blood sugar readings – but slightly below what would be considered diabetic – were associated with a 30 percent increase in hearing loss. Researchers believe that blood vessels and nerves in the ear become damaged with diabetes, resulting in poor hearing.
Instead of raising the volume or repeatedly asking, “Can you repeat that?” ask your doctor to check your blood sugar first.
Your vision has slightly improved
Along with hearing loss, failing vision is somewhat expected as a natural part of aging. If every year or so your prescription is getting stronger, then suddenly you’re taking off your glasses to read the paper, diabetes could also be playing a role in that.
As mentioned, diabetes is commonly associated with poorer or blurry vision, but in fact, vision can actually improve in some cases. This is because diabetes can change fluid levels in the body and the change can include your eyes. One day you may have good vision and days later you don’t. To put it simply, any changes to your vision should be reported – good or bad.
Your skin is changing, for the worse
Our skin ages as we do, which is why wrinkles and crow’s feet become an aging problem and not a 20-somethings problem. But changes such as dark, velvety patches on the skin – specifically on the back of your neck, elbows or knuckles – are a sign of high blood sugar levels.
The changes are due to a condition called acanthosis nigrican, and more often than not these skin changes are a result of diabetes. High blood sugar is linked with the growth of skin cells and melanin – what pigments skin.
Generally, losing weight can resolve these skin changes or a dermatologist can treat it with a topical ointment.
You’re nonstop itchy
Furthering our discussion about skin, you may find your skin has become much itchier, with little relief in sight. Diabetes affects blood circulation, which contributes to dry, itchy skin. If moisturizers and creams don’t aid in the itch, you definitely want to mention it to your doctor to prompt them to check your sugar levels.
Sometimes when an illness is so common we may believe we know all that we need to about it. But often health conditions are not that black and white and disease can portray itself in uncommon ways. These are just four of the unusual ways diabetes can present itself, so it’s important to recognize them and have your glucose levels checked.
Although these symptoms may not result in an immediate diagnosis of diabetes, they are very much telling you that the condition is on its way, so you should embark on healthy lifestyle habits to better prevent it.
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