Estimating how many people don’t know they have an illness is tricky business. But with a whole lot of advanced number crunching and careful analyzing, scientists think they have a good idea of how many folks in the United States have an undiagnosed case of diabetes.
According to researchers, there may be over eight million Americans walking around with type 2 diabetes who have no clue they have it. In fact, experts say up to 25 percent of US adults who have the disease don’t know it.
And that’s a problem because each day a silent case of diabetes goes undiagnosed it’s potentially doing further damage to your health.
Chronically high blood sugar raises your risk for
- heart disease and stroke
- eye problems, including blindness
- kidney disease
There are plenty of early warning signs for diabetes. But they can be very subtle and seem strangely unrelated to the illness. Which is why they’re often overlooked. And it’s why you too could be walking around with a silent case of diabetes.
Warning signs of silent diabetes
Following are five strange signs of silent diabetes. They can help you determine if you have a hidden case of this dangerous disease.
1. “Dirty” armpits:
Discolored skin under your arms, at the back of your neck or in your groin area could be a red flag for diabetes.
A condition called acanthosis nigricans causes the skin to darken in skin creases or folds on your body. These spots are often silky or smooth to the touch, and sometimes the skin is thicker than it is on the rest of your body. And it often appears in folks with diabetes.
The most common cause for acanthosis nigricans is having too much insulin in your bloodstream. With proper treatment, the discoloration will sometimes disappear.
2. Extreme hunger:
We all get hungry from time to time. But if you sometimes find yourself feeling ravenous, as if you must eat something NOW, it could be more than a run of the mill case of the munchies. And if that hunger is accompanied by a feeling of shakiness, sweating or confusion there’s a very good chance it has a link to your blood sugar.
When your blood sugar is running high eating something that’s very high in sugar or simple carbs can set off a chain reaction. Your body responds to the sudden jump in sugar by sending out a bit too much insulin. This causes your blood sugar to drop too quickly, a condition called hypoglycemia. And then your brain starts shouting, “EMERGENCY… FEED ME SUGAR!”
3. Blurry vision:
If you suddenly find yourself having trouble focusing on paperwork, the television, or your computer screen it might not be because you need new glasses. It could be silent diabetes.
A buildup of glucose can lead to fluid fluctuations in your eyes that cause them to change shape. But the good news is unlike diabetic retinopathy this blurriness isn’t permanent vision loss. With treatment, the glucose buildup will clear and so will your vision.
4. Tingly or numb feet or toes:
Ever had your foot fall asleep? The numb and then tingling feeling you felt is similar to what some folks feel when they develop diabetic neuropathies, or nerve damage, in their feet.
Some people describe the feeling as more of a burning sensation. But either way it’s uncomfortable, and at times painful.
If you find your feet “falling asleep” more often, or have any numbness or tingling in your feet, in could be a sign you have a case of silent diabetes.
5. Feeling grumpy or moody:
All of us have a bad day sometimes. Even a few in a row isn’t very unusual. But if you find yourself being irritated easily or feeling blue for long stretches if could be tied to your blood sugar.
Experts say high blood sugar can cause our tempers to flair or even appear to be depression. If you find yourself feeling out of sorts, exhausted and like you just don’t want to participate in anything, it’s worth having your blood sugar checked.
Don’t assume because you haven’t noticed any of the most obvious signs of type 2 diabetes that you’re safe. Keep your eyes peeled for these five strange signs of silent diabetes. And call your doctor if you suspect your blood sugar may be high.
The sooner you get your numbers back under the control the better chance you have of avoiding any dangerous complications.