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Diabetes Information

 

Diabetes

Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which sugar (glucose) remains in the blood rather than entering the bodies cells to be used for energy. This results in persistently high blood sugar, which, over time, can damage many body systems.

Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and frequent urination (especially at night), unexplained increase in appetite, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, erection problems, blurred vision, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.

People who have diabetes are at increased risk for many serious health problems, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart problems, eye problems that can lead to blindness, circulation and nerve problems, and kidney disease and kidney failure.

Diabetes is treated with diet and lifestyle changes and with medications (such as insulin or oral medications). If blood sugar levels are kept within the recommended range, the risk for many complications from diabetes decreases.

 

Diabetic Symptoms of High Blood Sugar

High blood sugar is the greatest single danger for people with Type 2 Diabetes because over time the presence of too much sugar in the blood is linked with long-term complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. Your power to raise and lower your own blood sugar is the greatest reason to check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis.

If you need another reason to control high blood sugar, note that you will continue to gain weight if blood sugars run high. The excess sugar in your blood will be stored in your body, some of it being converted into potentially dangerous fats called triglycerides. A feeling of depression may occur after several days of high blood sugar; this will affect the way you look at yourself and those around you, and probably hamper your efforts at self-management.

Unfortunately, many symptoms of high blood sugar are subtle and may easily be confused for something else, such as simply having a bad day at work or another minor health problem. This is why you should become attuned to your own body, and test your blood sugar. Learn to recognize the symptoms that you experience when your blood sugar is high.

One frequent symptom of high blood sugar is a stuffed, Thanksgiving afternoon feeling. Some feel a buzzing sensation in their bodies. Slow-healing cuts, sores, or infections can be warnings of high blood sugar. According to Richard Bernstein, M.D., author of Diabetes Type 2, Including Dramatic New Approaches to the Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes, other symptoms of high blood sugar may include confusion, headache, trembling hands, tingling in the fingers or tongue, buzzing in the ears, elevated pulse, unusual hunger, a tight  feeling in the throat or near the tongue, clumsiness, less ability to detect sweetness in taste sensations, irritability, stubbornness, nastiness, pounding the hands on tables and walls, blurred vision, visual spots, double vision, visual hallucinations, visual impairments, lack of physical coordination, tiredness, weakness, sudden awakenings from sleep, shouting while asleep, rapid and shallow breathing, nervousness, light-headedness, faintness, feelings of unusual warmth, cold clammy skin, restlessness, insomnia, nightmares, paleness of complexion, nausea, slurring of speech, and a condition called nystagmus in which the eyes involuntarily jerk when sweeping from side to side. For some, blood sugar is elevated when the letters of the Arabic alphabet begin to look like they're written in Russian or Chinese. Other people walk into walls when their blood sugar is high. Some people become intensely angry and upset for no apparent reason. According to Dr. Bernstein, the symptoms of high blood sugar may occur in clusters or appear alone without other symptoms.

Since your symptoms will be unique to you, try to identify them with the use of home blood sugar tests. If it will help you remember, tell someone else or write down how you feel at the moment when your blood sugar tests unusually high for you. Ask your spouse or family members to tell you if they spot any symptoms of high blood sugar in you. Symptoms are distinctive to each individual--pay attention to your own body and learn to spot high blood sugar whenever you can.

If your blood sugar does become elevated, practice good self-management to reduce your stress, become more physically active, or adjust your eating patterns to bring it back under control. Medications can also help you accomplish this.

In the most rare and extreme instances of high blood sugar, such as when you have been ill over a long period of time, you may go into a diabetic coma, falling into unconsciousness for no apparent reason to those around you. In this case, you must be taken to a hospital emergency room for treatment.

Don't ignore high blood sugar. All the long-term complications of diabetes are believed to result from prolonged periods of high blood sugar or poor blood sugar control.

 

Symptoms of High Blood Sugar

If your blood sugar levels are consistently 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) to 350 mg/dL, you may have mild symptoms of high blood sugar. You may have increased urination, if you are drinking plenty of liquids. Some people with diabetes may not notice any symptoms when their blood sugar level is in this range. Young children are unable to recognize symptoms of high blood sugar. Parents need to do a home blood sugar test whenever they suspect high blood sugar.

 

If you do not drink enough liquids to replace the fluids lost from high blood sugar levels, you can become dehydrated. Young children can become dehydrated very quickly. Symptoms of dehydration include:
bullet A dry mouth and increased thirst.
bullet Warm, dry skin.
bullet A weak pulse.

 

If your blood sugar levels are consistently high (usually above 350 mg/dL), you may have moderate to severe symptoms of high blood sugar. You may have blurred vision and drowsiness or difficulty waking up. If you are not drinking enough liquids, you may also have symptoms of dehydration, such as the following:
bullet Dizziness or weakness when sitting or standing
bullet Dark, concentrated urine in decreasing amounts
bullet Lightheadedness

 

If your body produces little or no insulin (people with type 1 diabetes and some people with type 2 diabetes), you also may have the following symptoms:
bullet Rapid, deep breathing
bullet A strong, fruity breath odor (similar to the smell of nail polish remover or acetone)
bullet Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and/or vomiting

 

If your blood sugar levels continue to rise, you may become confused and lethargic. You also may become unconscious if your blood sugar levels are very high.

 

Dehydration in children

Dehydration can occur when the body loses too much water.

bullet A lack of interest in playing and extreme sleepiness. (The child may be so sleepy that he or she is difficult to wake up.)
bullet A dry mouth and tongue
bullet A sunken soft spot (fontanel) on top of the head
bullet Sunken eyes without tears
bullet Fast breathing and rapid heartbeat
bullet No urination (a dry diaper) for more than 12 hours

 

Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

bullet A decreased interest in play
bullet A sunken soft spot (fontanel) in the head
bullet Sunken eyes with few tears
bullet A dry mouth, with little or no saliva
bullet Extreme hunger or thirst
bullet No urination for 8 hours or fewer than 3 urinations (fewer than 3 wet diapers) in 24 hours
bullet Irritability, agitation, fussiness, or restlessness
bullet Hungry or thirsty most of the time
bullet Less frequent urinations than usual or needs fewer diaper changes. The child's urine will have a stronger odor and be darker yellow than normal.
 

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Established November 1, 2006

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