When we talked about diabetes, high blood sugar often the term that pops up as the common symptom in people with diabetes. However, there’s so much more to type 2 diabetes than meets the eye. Diabetes comes with hundreds of possible combinations of symptoms, many of which appear invisible and most people do not see the many symptoms that diabetic patients experience. Here we discuss the chronic nature of diabetes and its hidden symptoms.
“A strain of the disease could be wreaking havoc on our bodies without us knowing”
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When the cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream, leading to serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease (1). However, there are symptoms that you could look out for before the conditions turn worse.
Hidden symptoms of diabetes
A study conducted by the University of Exeter has found that half a million adults may have diabetes without realizing. The researchers analyzed blood samples of 200,000 Britons and found out that 2,000 of them had very high blood sugar levels but had yet to be diagnosed with the condition.
“Type 2 diabetes can be present for many years without symptoms and the worry about diabetes not being diagnosed for a long time is that people could have significant damage to their body caused by high glucose”, mentioned by Assoc. Prof. Angus Jones. As the symptoms are usually mild and vague, two of the most well-known hidden symptoms are polydipsia and polyuria – characterized by the feeling thirsty all the time and needing to go to bathroom more often. Besides that, people with undiagnosed diabetes find that it takes a longer time for their wound to heal. This is because the high levels of sugar in the blood making it thick and sticky, hence, preventing the white blood cells from passing through to heal the wound (2).
Symptoms of hidden diabetes
Hidden diabetes is also called prediabetes, this is the period when precautions can be taken so that this condition does not turn into diabetes. Besides constant thirst, excessive urination, the ones below are more easily missed and should be brought up to your healthcare provider.
1. Inflamed or infected gums
Periodontitis or also known as the gum disease, may be an early sign of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have found that people with gum disease had higher rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes than those without. Inflammation caused by gum disease can be responsible for high blood sugar causing diabetes (3).
2. Strange sensations in your feet
About 10% to 20% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have some nerve damage related to the disease. In the early stages, this can be barely noticeable, but one may feel a strange, electric tingling in the feet, or decreased sensation and balance (4).
3. Hearing or vision loss
Elevated blood sugar levels can damage the retinas and cause fluid fluctuation around the eyeballs, leading to blurry or impaired vision. Eyesight is usually restored when the blood sugar levels return to normal, but if diabetes goes unmanaged for a long time, the damage could become permanent.
High blood sugar can also affect nerve cells in the ear and cause impaired hearing. Like other parts of the body, hair cells of the inner ear rely on good circulation to maintain health, as well as translating the noise our ears collect into electrical impulses, sending to the brain to interpret as recognizable sound (5).
Finding out early diagnosis can be upsetting, however it doesn’t mean you will develop diabetes. Start any diet and lifestyle changes today, and you can stop the progression to diabetes.
What is diabetes? 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
Poor immune response impairs diabetic wound healing, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/poor-immune-response-impairs-diabetic-wound-healing
Preshaw PM, Alba AL, Herrera D, Jepsen S, Konstantinidis A, Makrilakis K, Taylor R. Periodontitis and diabetes: a two-way relationship. Diabetologia. 2012 Jan;55(1):21-31. doi: 10.1007/s00125-011-2342-y. Epub 2011 Nov 6. PMID: 22057194; PMCID: PMC3228943.
Pop-Busui R, Boulton AJ, Feldman EL, Bril V, Freeman R, Malik RA, Sosenko JM, Ziegler D. Diabetic Neuropathy: A Position Statement by the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2017 Jan;40(1):136-154. doi: 10.2337/dc16-2042. PMID: 27999003; PMCID: PMC6977405.
Hearing loss is common in people with diabetes, 2008. Retrieved from: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/hearing-loss-common-people-diabetes#:~:text=Diabetes%20may%20lead%20to%20hearing,shown%20evidence%20of%20such%20damage.