15 subtle signs of the silent killer

15 subtle signs of the silent killer

You may have diabetes and not know it.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the U.S., and of those 29 million people, more than 8 million are underdiagnosed. That’s why diabetes is often described as “the silent killer.”

Diabetes is a chronic condition that happens when your blood sugar, or your glucose, is too high. This can happen when your body does not regulate sugar well because it does not produce enough insulin or because your body does not process sugar efficiently.

Risk factors include being overweight, having a family history or having gestational diabetes during pregnancy. “If you are over the age of 45, or you have risk factors, it’s important to be screened regularly,” says Dr. Sanaa Khan Deshmukh, an endocrinologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

But what if you don’t fall into one of these categories? Should you still be screened?

Dr. Deshmukh outlines 15 subtle symptoms that may indicate diabetes. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms:

  1. Increased need to urinate; more urine volume
  2. Being very thirsty
  3. Increased hunger
  4. Bad breath, especially an unpleasant sweet and fruity smell
  5. Bleeding or swollen gums, receding gum line and mouth pain
  6. Blurry vision
  7. Bruises and cuts that take a long time to heal
  8. Losing weight without trying
  9. Increased fatigue
  10. Dizzy or fainting spells
  11. Yeast and fungal infections (eye styes, athletes foot, vaginal infections, jock itch and ringworm)
  12. Dark spots around your neck and armpits
  13. Tingling or numbness in your hand and/or feet
  14. Itchy, dry skin
  15. Sexual dysfunction

It’s important to not let diabetes run amok for too long, as it can cause damage to just about every system and organ in your body. Dr. Deshmukh offers the following tips to prevent or control diabetes:

  1. Lose weight. Even five percent of your overall weight can make a huge difference for obese people.
  2. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet with a reduced amount of refined sugars.
  3. Walk as much as possible, and especially after every meal.
  4. See your doctor if you notice any changes in your body. A simple blood test can determine if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

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About the Author

Kate Eller
Kate Eller

Kate Eller, health enews contributor, is a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations. She came to Chicago and Advocate Health Care in 2014 after living in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking” around Chicago while taking photos for Instagram.