Many years ago, a neighbor of mine was on an out-of-state golfing trip with some of his buddies. While on the golf course, he suddenly loss his vision – couldn’t see a thing. A quick trip to the ER revealed that this two-pack-a-day smoker had a serious case of diabetes. He regained his sight, but it was the wake-up call he needed to quit smoking – cold turkey – and make other lifestyle changes. While many associate diabetes with poor circulation resulting in leg or foot amputation, the disease is associated with other serious complications like blindness, heart disease, stroke, hearing problems and kidney failure, among others. According to the Diabetes Research Institute, 37.3 million people, or 11.3% of the U.S. population, had diabetes in 2022. Approximately 8.6 million people had the disease, but had not been diagnosed.
Lesser-Known Signs of Diabetes
-Blurred Vision- If you’ve had to update your eyeglass prescription more often than once a year, it may be because your blood sugar levels change quickly, causing the lens of your eyes to get cloudy or swell, creating blurry vision.
-Unexplained Weight Loss- If you experience quick or dramatic weight loss without making any changes to your diet or fitness routine, diabetes could be the reason. That’s because the sugar your body needs for fuel leaves your body in your urine, so your body begins burning fat and muscle for energy.
-A Wound Slow to Heal- The extra sugar in your blood, when you’re diabetic, slows wound healing. That’s why surgeons often require patients needing surgery to first undergo diabetes testing.
-Mood Changes- People with undiagnosed diabetes can’t control their emotions, in large part because diabetes causes fatigue which can increase moodiness. However, once their glucose is controlled, these symptoms improve.
-Chronic Yeast Infections -The high blood sugar from diabetes encourages yeast to grow. Doctors don’t always think about the link between reoccurring chronic infections like skin, bladder and urinary tract and diabetes.
-Erectile Dysfunction- Often cause by diabetes, ED affects 66 percent of men with type 2 diabetes, according to an analysis.
-Nausea and Constipation- High blood sugar can slow the digestive process and present these symptoms. If it’s for more than 2 or 3 days, it’s a concern.
-Dark patches of hair- Some women with insulin resistance develop thick, coarse hair on their faces because insulin can stimulate cells to produce the male hormones that cause hair growth – and acne. Those symptoms tend to go away once you get the glucose levels under control.
-Skin Tags- Little fleshy growths often show up on the neck, eyelids, armpits and groin. Although harmless, a 2020 study in BMC Research Notes found that 59 percent of those with skin tags had diabetes, compared with 13 percent of those with no skin tags.
Researchers believe high levels of insulin set off growth factors that cause things to grow and change.
6 Bad Habits that Increase Risk of Diabetes
-Skipping Breakfast- Dietitians say skipping breakfast sets you up to overeat the rest of the day, those who eat breakfast are able to maintain a lower body mass index.
-Sitting for More Than 30 Minutes at a Time- New research shows that morning and, particularly, mid-day to afternoon physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes across all population levels of education and income. Set the alarm on your phone to remind yourself to get up every 30 minutes and move around.
-Drinking more than a glass of alcohol or two daily- Too much alcohol can lead to chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which can impair its ability to secrete insulin – especially in women and non-Asian groups.
-Skimping on Sleep- In a 2022 study published in Diabetes Care, of almost 337,000 people, participants who reported difficulty in sleeping had higher blood sugar levels than those who said they rarely had sleep issues. -Smoking – According to the CDC, smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers. Eating Processed Foods- Deli meats, microwaveable dinners and many cereals have long been linked to an increased risk of cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease – and diabetes. Part of it has to do with weight gain. A diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t mean your life stops, but an untreated case can.