Diabetes is a chronic debilitating disease involving prolonged increased levels of blood sugar (glucose) which in turn has an adverse effect on overall health. Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to produce apt levels of insulin or when insulin is present but it is not employed efficiently enough by the body.
Insulin carries blood sugar, released due to food metabolism, to cells where energy is required or for storage in the form of fat. Thus the blood sugar levels reduce to normal. Lack of insulin or body resistance against insulin causes increased levels of sugar in the blood stream only because the body is not able to consume that sugar. Increased levels of glucose in the bloodstream cause much harm to the body. All changes are reversible initially, but if diabetes goes undiagnosed and untreated, these changes may cause permanent damage to the body.
Early diabetes may sometimes go without symptoms. But there are three main symptoms that start with 'P', commonly known as the three 'P's.
1. Polydipsia- This means increased thirst and xerostomia. The kidneys work hard to expel the excess of blood sugar. The uncontrolled secretion of fluids from the body increases dehydration and thus thirst.
2. Polyuria- This means increased urination. This occurs due to the body's effort to debar excess blood glucose.
3. Polyphagia- This pertains to increased hunger. Blood sugar is not delivered to cells and that induces a feeling of starvation in the cells hence producing hunger pangs.
4. Unexplainable weight loss- When cells are deprived of carbohydrates for energy to work, the body starts breaking down proteins from muscles and fats from storage to gain energy for metabolism. That results in a decrease of body mass.
5. Dry and itchy skin- Excessive fluid secretion from the body causes general dehydration and loss of moisture from skin too. Dryness causes irritation and itching.
6. Delayed wound healing- Damage to blood vessels due to increased glucose in the bloodstream causes delayed wound healing.
7. Exhaustion- The body is working hard to expel the toxins hence rendering it weak and tired.
8. Bacterial and fungal infections- Bacteria and fungi need to sugar to thrive on. Also, immunity in diabetic patients is suppressed. These are perfect conditions for the growth of microorganisms.
9. Tingling and numbness in extremities- Increased blood sugar not only damages blood vessels, it damages nerves too. Damage to nerves causes numbness and tingling.
10. Blurred vision- Increased sugar causes changes in the cornea and eyeball.
11. General sick feeling and nausea.
If detected and treated early on in its course, these symptoms are reversible. Controlled diabetics will not carry these symptoms.