Diabetes is a chronic illness associated with imbalanced insulin and glucose levels in the body. It is quite common with older adults and while some of its symptoms are obvious and severe, symptoms of diabetes can sometimes appear so mildly that it is possible to go undetected until long-term damage has already been done. Diabetes in older people can trigger other health related complications such as eye diseases, heart disease, kidney failure, decline in sexual function, hypoglycemia and so on. This is why this article aims at helping you identify the early warning symptoms of diabetes so that you can seek medical help as early as possible.
Here are 7 warning signs that can help you detect diabetes in yourself or in an older person you know.
- Blurred Vision: High blood glucose levels can negatively affect the shape and function of the eye lens by making it difficult for them to focus on objects and people. This can manifest as blurred or distorted vision and can lead to partial or complete loss of vision if not treated in good time.
- Increased Thirst/Dehydration & Hunger: A common symptom of diabetes in older people is an increase in thirst (polydipsia) and appetite (polyphagia). This increase in thirst occurs as a result of excess glucose in the blood and the filtering out of this glucose by the kidney through urine which is what leads to dehydration. The increase in appetite, especially for sugary foods, occurs due to the decline of dietary glucose to your cells which leads your body to craving more food and sugar to supplement for the glucose deficiency. Unfortunately, this only leads to spiking up your blood sugar levels.
- Delayed Healing of Wounds: Delayed or very slow healing of wounds, cuts or bruises on the body is a possible warning sign of diabetes. Due to high blood sugar in the blood, circulation of blood becomes slower leading to slow healing. Frequent skin infections that are difficult to treat and appearance of sores on the body (especially on the feet) are also warning signs of diabetes.
- Polyuria (Frequent urination): People with diabetes will often experience a more than regular need to urinate. This is because of the high blood sugar in the blood which the kidney works to filter out of the body as urine.
- Dramatic and Unintentional Weight Loss: Losing weight suddenly and dramatically despite eating well or even eating more than usual may be a warning sign of diabetes. This is because when one has diabetes, the body is unable to process glucose into energy and then substitutes by breaking down and converting body fats and muscle tissues into energy for the body leading to weight loss.
- Fatigue: People who suffer from diabetes, especially older people, experience low energy and heightened levels of tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion. This is also the result of the body’s challenge with converting glucose to energy and the frequent excretion of glucose as urine. This can sometimes lead to dizzy spells, sweating and chills, shaking and even fainting.
- Numbness & Tingling: Peripheral neuropathy which is also known as nerve damage is a common complication of diabetes. If you begin noticing frequent tingling, numbness or pain in your hands or feet, it should be taken as a warning sign of diabetes.
Diabetes in older people requires special care and attention as more often than not, older adults with diabetes often have other health conditions that need to be managed properly with professional individualized care, medication management and monitoring.
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