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How to Know if I Have Diabetes

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 30, 2018
How to Know if I Have Diabetes

Diabetes is a range of disorders derived from prolonged high blood sugar, usually caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. The are two main types, the differences between which we discuss below, but the symptoms can be difficult to diagnose. With type 2 diabetes particularly, the condition may have developed without you even noticing. If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious health risks as well as greatly affect your overall quality of life. This why is you are wondering how to know if you have diabetes, you need to pay attention to your body and be careful of lifestyle choices. oneHOWTO shows you what to look for as the main signs of this condition, but also recommend visiting a doctor to ensure a correct diagnosis.

You may also be interested in: How to prevent type 2 diabetes
Steps to follow:
1

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Before you can know if you have diabetes, you need to know the difference between the two main types. There are other conditions which fall under the banner group of diabetes mellitus (the group name for diabetic conditions), but type 1 and type 2 diabetes make up the majority. One, gestational diabetes, happens during pregnancy and is something which should be monitored for during pregnancy check-ups.

  • Type 1 diabetes: this is when the pancreas does not produce insulin to regulate your blood sugar. It is diagnosed most commonly earlier in life, usually during childhood. Genetics play a part in whether or not you will get type 1 diabetes, but many genes can affect it.
  • Type 2 diabetes: this is when the body develops resistance to and creates a lack of insulin leading to inability to control blood sugar levels. It is usually diagnosed later in life and is very related to lifestyle, particularly obesity.

Insulin is a hormone which regulates our metabolism, promoting the absorption of carbohydrates, fats and protein into the blood stream. This is essential to our survival as these nutrients keep our body functioning and help our immune system to function properly. It is created in the pancreas, so damage to this organ can have a drastic effect on our ability to produce insulin.

Eating too many sugary foods causes an excessive build-up of glucose in the blood and our bodies cannot convert it into energy. This is the main cause of type 2 diabetes, which is more common in older people. Meanwhile, type 1 diabetes which affects children and young people, occurs when the pancreatic cells are gradually destroyed leaving the organ unable to produce enough insulin.

How to Know if I Have Diabetes - Step 1
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Type 1 diabetes symptoms

Apart from a blood test, the best way to know if you have diabetes is to look out for the symptoms. For type 1 diabetes, the first thing you need to consider is age. If you are a younger person, then you are more likely to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. However, type 1 diabetes only accounts for up to 10% of diabetes patients, the rest being type 2 and other diabetic conditions.

The symptoms are also clearer in children and they can appear rather suddenly. This doesn't mean the condition has appeared suddenly. It's possible to have type 1 diabetes for some time before feeling the adverse effects. This is why yearly blood tests are recommended for those with an increased predisposition of diabetes. This includes those with a close relative (in the nuclear family) who may have the same condition or having other autoimmune issues.

The symptoms to look out for in type 1 diabetes include:

  • Fatigue/extreme tiredness/drowsiness
  • Bodily weakness
  • Dry skin
  • Excessive urination (also known as polyuria)
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst (also known as polydipsia)
  • Short rapid breaths
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Blurry vision

There is an increased risk of clinical depression in those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes[1], so keeping an eye on your mental well being is important. However, it's not just diagnosable clinical depression which shows someone may have type 1 diabetes. Frequent mood swings and changes in demeanor may be signals of possible diabetes symptoms. It is important to keep an eye on these issues. If you have a child you suspect may be suffering from type 1 diabetes, you can see if these symptoms match up. However, you will need to take them to a doctor either way to see if there may be another underlying condition.

3

Type 2 diabetes symptoms

As we said before, type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in younger persons. Type 2 diabetes is the opposite and is much more likely to be diagnosed in middle age or later life. However, as the disease is linked to obesity, diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is increasingly happening in younger people[2]. This is because levels of obesity are increasing across the board. Looking at lifestyle is really important in type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Prevention or retardation of the onset of type 2 diabetes can occur by following a healthier lifestyle[3]. A combination of genetics and lifestyle will affect type 2 diabetes diagnoses.

The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include the following:

  • Fatigue/extreme tiredness/drowsiness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Excessive urination (also known as polyuria)
  • Increased hunger (also known as polyphagia)
  • Increased thirst (also known as polydipsia)
  • Itchiness around the crotch area
  • Blurry vision

These symptoms may occur over a long time and be asymptomatic (i.e. not displaying symptoms). However, if you fear you may have type 2 diabetes, then it's likely because you know your lifestyle might be conducive to contracting it. You should think about how well or poorly you eat, the amount of alcohol and sugary foods you intake as well as your belly size. An increased waist is a good indicator that you may be susceptible to diabetes. This is especially so if you have a large belly, but are relatively slim elsewhere.

The reason why you may need to urinate more or constantly go to the bathroom is because there is too much glucose in your blood and the kidneys are working overtime to get rid of it. This, in turn, increases the need to drink and feeling thirsty. The more you urinate, the more depleted your fluids become and the more you feel the need to replenish them.

Fatigue and weariness occur because your cells are not getting the energy them need to function at an optimal level. You can experience weight loss with both of these types of diabetes. However, it is more common in those with type 1 diabetes, especially those who experience it suddenly.

How to Know if I Have Diabetes - Step 3
4

If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from diabetes, it is incredibly important to get yourself assessed by a medical professional. They should be able to tell with a blood test, but they can also see if it may be an unrelated issue providing these symptoms. Untreated or badly managed diabetes can be life threatening. It can take years off your life and also lead to complications with vein diseases, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

However, with management and the correct medical treatment, diabetes can be lived with and still lead an otherwise fulfilling life. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are also very important in managing the disease.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if I Have Diabetes, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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