What are the symptoms of diabetes including diabetes risk factors?

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The symptoms of diabetes sometimes never surface, even after diagnosis. This is because they often don’t develop until blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) levels are very high. So even if you have none of the signs and symptoms described below, you may still have diabetes especially if you have some of the risk factors listed.

The factors that predispose people to developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • People aged 45 years or over who are obese or overweight, have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Having a waist circumference over 94 cm in men and over 80 cm in women
  • Having a family history of type 2 diabetes (with a significantly increased risk if both your mother and father have diabetes)
  • A poor diet
  • More than 2 hours a day of television viewing
  • All people with cardiovascular disease
  • Smokers

The symptoms may be subtle and are often put down as simply “just getting old”. Even in the absence of the following symptoms, a blood glucose check needs to be performed to provide an accurate diagnosis of diabetes.

If blood glucose levels reach15mmol/L or more, common symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Infections that are slow to heal

If you have any of these risk factors for type 2 diabetes and are unsure as to whether you may have the condition, it is important to consult your doctor. A quick and simple blood glucose test can be performed in the clinic. If further clarification is required, a definitive test performed at a pathology laboratory can be arranged.

Even if you have been cleared by your GP as having diabetes, this does not mean that you may not develop the condition later in life. If you have some of the predisposing factors listed above, it is important that you are tested every 1-2 years. Regular testing will ensure that if diabetes is picked up, that it has been diagnosed early. This gives you the best possible chance to implement the lifestyle interventions that are required to reduce your risk of complications of this disease. Knowledge is the key to improved outcomes as even small changes made over the long term can have a significant impact.

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