Warning Signs of Diabetes


Type 2

The best way to determine whether you have diabetes, is NOT to wait until you have symptoms. High blood sugar can go on for years and years without your knowledge because many of the symptoms can be vague and are often blamed on other conditions.  Fatigue and headaches are common early warning signs, but are often ignored because, well, when you hear someone say “I have a headache”  or “I’m tired,” do you instantly think “diabetes?”  Probably not.  But once you have moved to the following warning signs, you may be well aware that something is really wrong…

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Low blood sugar within a few hours after a meal

You should not wait until you experience these signs before you determine for yourself whether you have diabetes.  TYPE 2 DIABETES IS LARGELY PREVENTABLE.  By the time you are experiencing these symptoms above, your diabetes is well established.  Rather than wait, a simple test you can perform at home will give you the answer you need.  You can purchase a blood sugar meter over the counter at most major pharmacies.  Test your fasting blood sugar* a few mornings in a row.  A fasting blood sugar in the 90’s indicates that you are starting to show signs of glucose intolerance.  A fasting blood sugar of 100 to 125 is considered “pre-diabetes.”  In other words, diabetes.  Diabetes at this point is much easier to reverse.  It is time for action.  A fasting blood sugar of 126 is considered diabetes.  If you discover that you have diabetes, know that taking definitive steps with your diet, activity and other lifestyle factors can reverse Type 2 diabetes for many people.  You will, however, need to maintain these healthy practices for life (or at least for as long as you want to keep diabetes from resurfacing.)

Who should test to find out whether they have diabetes or not?  In my opinion, every adult (and even children with certain health conditions.)  Don’t assume that just because you are a normal weight, eating what you consider a healthy diet and are physically active, that Type 2 will not find you.  Not true.  Testing would be especially important for those that have ANY ONE of these pre-disposing factors:

  • You have a history of Type 2 diabetes in your family
  • You are overweight
  • You are normal weight but have belly fat
  • You have blood pressure above normal range
  • You have elevated triglycerides and/or low HDL
  • You have PCOS
  • You’ve had gestational diabetes
  • You have reactive hypoglycemia or episodes of “low blood sugar”
  • You are frequently hungry, tired and crave simple carbohydrates
  • You are an adult, drink sodas (regular or diet), don’t exercise much and have eaten the Standard American Diet for the last 5-10 years
Type 1

The onset of Type 1 is often very sudden in appearance.  Those with Type 1 may experience all of the above symptoms, along with other life threatening symptoms, such as severe illness and often, recent considerable weight loss.

TYPE 1 DIABETES IS NOT PREVENTABLE OR REVERSIBLE.  Those with Type 1 will be required to use insulin for life.  But with the same healthy diet, activity and lifestyle factors that are good for those with Type 2, those with Type 1 can minimize use of insulin and reduce the risk of future diabetes complications.

For information on managing diabetes with a low carb lifestyle, please click on my “Diabetes” tab above.

*Fasting blood sugars are one of the last things to reflect a problem.  Testing post meal blood sugars (at 1, 1 1/2 and 2 hours) may be an even more effective tool for determining your level of carbohydrate tolerance.