Symptoms of Diabetes

African woman using diabetes test kit

This week’s blog is dedicated to a condition that affects over 1.2 million Canadians – diabetes.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the patient cannot process glucose (sugar in the blood). This can occur either because the person has an inability to produce an adequate amount of insulin (a hormone which enables the cells of the body to absorb sugar), or because the individual’s cells are non-responsive (resistant) to insulin.

People over the age of 65 are more likely to be diagnosed, with the vast majority of these diagnoses being type 2 diabetes. About 26% of Canadians over 65 have diabetes in Canada. A whopping third of diabetics out there don’t even know they have it.
Know the symptoms to catch diabetes early.

Signs of Type 2 Diabetes:

Thirst and Urinating Often

When there is too much sugar in the blood, the kidneys react by flushing it out of the system to try to maintain balance in your body. Urinating a little more frequently can be a normal part of aging. However, the need to go frequently, or getting up in the middle of the night more than once to urinate could be signs of diabetes. When your body loses needed water through urination, a natural consequence is to feel thirstier than usual because your body is dehydrated.


Frequent urination and dehydration may cause headaches. Since headaches can occur for a number of reasons, a headache from high blood sugar may go undetected.

Feeling Hungry All the Time

Feeling hungry, even while eating, can be a sign that your body is not processing glucose properly. If your cells don’t know how to use insulin, then the insulin will simply remain in the blood stream. The presence of insulin in the blood triggers the body to feel hunger. Eating often won’t do much good to satisfy the appetite of someone whose cells don’t know how to use insulin. Instead, sugar will just come into the blood which the body can’t absorb.

Tiredness or Fatigue

The biggest reason people feel fatigued while having untreated diabetes is related to the inability to process the sugar they are eating into energy. Without the appropriate amount of energy in your body, fatigue results.

Obscured Vision

Muscles within the eye control the lens of the eye by bending it to focus light. With increased blood sugar levels, it becomes increasingly difficult for the muscles to bend appropriately to focus light, resulting in blurred vision. If left untreated, patients can suffer serious damage and even go blind.

Slow Healing Wounds and Frequent Infections

Cuts, blisters, or bruises may take longer to heal than normally. To heal a wound, your body needs the help of its immune system to build new cells. This is more difficult for your body to do with high blood sugar levels. Diabetes can also decrease circulation, affecting the amount of nutrients and oxygen the wound needs to heal.

Fungal and bacterial infections can occur more frequently in diabetics, including urinary tract infections and yeast infections in women. High amounts of glucose in urine or other excretions can lead to increased risk of infection.

Tingling, numbness, and/or pain in hands or feet

Though numbness usually occurs after many years of diabetes, it can occur in pre-diabetics as well. Numbness will generally start within the extremities and migrate to the rest of the body. Good diabetes management can mediate these complications or avoid them entirely.

Weight Loss

Because diabetics cannot process the glucose they are eating, much of it can come out during urination instead of being processed or stored in the body.

Diabetes left untreated can lead to a whole host of nasty complications, including nerve damage, optic damage, kidney damage, foot problems, and heart complications. However, with proper management including diet, exercise and a good medication regime, many people can live a normal healthy life with diabetes for a very long time.