Even if you don’t have any of the normal risk factors for diabetes, it’s important to pay attention to subtle signs of high blood sugar.
Increased thirst and urination, fatigue and darkening of the skin around the neck, armpits and groin can be early signs of rising blood sugar, said Luke Scamardo, MD. Men may also experience erectile or sexual dysfunction.
Most people don’t even know they have high blood sugar until they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – and probably have had it for some time.
Know your risk factors
Risk factors for diabetes include excess body weight, a sedentary lifestyle, a diet high in sugars or processed foods and abdominal weight gain. People of certain ethnic groups and backgrounds can also be more susceptible, as well as people with a family history of diabetes.
It’s important to be aware of risk factors and early symptoms and see your doctor if you need further evaluation.
“This is a great reminder to schedule your annual visit so this can be monitored and caught early,” said Dr. Scamardo. “Serious signs could be confusion with fruity breath and dehydration. Sometimes people may experience visual changes, slow healing wounds or numbness in their hands and feet.”
Helping you manage your Diabetes
Your provider may order labs to measure your fasting blood sugar; hemoglobin a1c – which gives a three-month estimate of your average blood sugar; a urine test to assess for protein, ketones and glucose in your urine and a lipid panel to assess your kidney function and maybe liver as well.
Your blood pressure will be checked and may be treated, due to recommendations to achieve lower blood pressures in people with diabetes than may be allowed in those without. An annual eye exam to screen for retinopathy and other potential effects of diabetes should also be scheduled.
Your doctor will also calculate your body mass index, and, if you’re above a healthy weight, may encourage you to lose 10% of your body weight.
Finally, diabetes education with an educator, dietitian or health coach is very important to ensuring you have adequate knowledge of managing your condition and to help answer the questions you may have about what and how to best eat.
Visits may be frequent after a diagnosis, and then may spread out to every three to six months with your physician once your metabolic markers are at goal. During this time there may be other visits with other health professionals to help manage other aspects of diabetes.