‘I’m a GP – here are six symptoms of diabetes to identify early’

There are two main types of diabetes – type 1 diabetes is where your body doesn’t produce insulin. There is no way to prevent this type of diabetes and its exact cause is currently unknown.

Type 2 diabetes is where your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin you do produce doesn’t function properly. This type of diabetes usually comes on in adulthood and can be affected by lifestyle choices as well as other factors.

According to GP at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Neel Patel, diabetes sometimes goes undetected as some of the symptoms go unnoticed.

He added: “However, it’s best to identify diabetes earlier so that you can avoid later complications or potentially avoid developing diabetes altogether.”

If diabetes is left untreated, eye problems, nerve damage and mouth problems can occur, as well as increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Diabetes symptoms

Dr Patel listed the following diabetes symptoms to look out for:

  • Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
  • Being unusually thirsty
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Thrush or itchy genitals
  • Cuts taking longer to heal

Who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

Generally, people who are overweight or obese are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Dr Patel explained: “Specifically, people with an unhealthy waistline measurement and those who store too much fat around their pancreas and liver can be at high risk.

“Certain ethnicities also have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People from Black African, African Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds are generally at a higher risk.”

Is diabetes dangerous?

Diabetes can be very dangerous if it goes untreated. As mentioned earlier, complications can include sight loss, foot problems, heart attack or stroke, kidney problems, nerve damage, gum disease and sexual difficulties.

Dr Patel said: “Most complications build up over time but others can present at any point.

“This being said, if proper treatment is provided and the diabetes is managed, you should be able to live a healthy and normal life.”

How can you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes?

The best way to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is to improve your overall health by choosing a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Patel advised: “One of the biggest factors that can help is losing weight. This can be done through increasing your physical activity and eating healthier balanced meals. If your waist size is over 31.5 inches for a woman, or 37 inches for a man, you may want to consider losing weight to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

“Two other key lifestyle improvements that can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes are quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol. Both smoking and excessive drinking have been linked to increased risk of developing the disease and smoking has been shown to increase the risk of complications if you do develop type 2 diabetes.”

How can you test for diabetes?

If you think you may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or you’ve experienced diabetes symptoms, you should contact your GP and ask for a test.

Dr Patel said: “Diabetes can be tested for by blood testing which is available on the NHS. LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor has also launched a home blood testing service that can test your risk of developing diabetes as well as a number of other health-related issues.”

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