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Here's How to Know if You Have Diabetes, Say Physicians

 Four signs of diabetes to watch out for, according to experts. 

Diabetes is a chronic disease that if left untreated can cause serious health problems like heart attack, heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Diabetes happens when a person's blood sugar is too high. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains, "Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn't make enough—or any—insulin or doesn't use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn't reach your cells." There's many signs that indicate if you have diabetes and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who revealed the common ones to be aware of. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Sleep Apnea

Woman Covering Her Ears With Pillow While Man Snoring

Endocrinologist Dr. Brian Fertig, M.D., F.A.C.E., Founder and President of the Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center explains, "4 out of 5 men and the majority of women with diabetes have sleep apnea. It often promotes the onset of diabetes in an analogous way to synthetic processing as well as over and underconsumption of food, that promote oxidation effects, inflammation, high blood insulin levels, insulin resistance and damage to energy-producing machinery of cells. Sleep apnea fragments sleep, including deep (slow wave) sleep, that results in fatigue in addition to impairing the quality, quantity and timing of eating patterns. Together, these effects potentiate insulin resistance and elevate glucose and fat levels in the blood, worsening diabetes."  

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Increased Mental Stress

upset woman

Dr. Fertig says, "The high levels of inflammatory mediators (cytokines) in the blood, promoted by elevated blood glucose and lipid levels and excess body fat stores, access the emotional centers of the brain to reduce the threshold of perceived stress. This amplifies stress behaviors that further worsen blood sugar control, in another feed forward self-amplifying loop. This occurs at any stage of diabetes when the blood sugars, lipids and body fat stores are high, but tends to also correlate with advanced age." 

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Acanthosis Nigricans

Overweight woman discussing test results with doctor in hospital.

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook reveals, "Something I look for in clients is Acanthosis Nigricans which presents as a dark patch or band of velvety skin on the back of your neck, armpit, groin, or elsewhere which could mean that you have too much insulin in your blood. It is often an early signal of type 2 diabetes."

RELATED: The #1 Sign Your Blood Sugar is "Way Too High"


Excessive Hunger, Thirst and Urination

woman drinking water

According to Harris-Pincus, "Excessive hunger, thirst and urination are the classic signs of undiagnosed diabetes. The excess sugar in the bloodstream makes you have to pee more frequently as the body draws water into the kidneys to help process the extra sugar. This is what makes you thirsty. And the excess hunger happens because you are not properly converting the food you eat into energy."

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Lifestyle Factors that Increase the Risk of Diabetes

Close-up Of Person's Hand Checking Blood Sugar Level With Glucometer

"Diabetes is a multifactorial disease," says Harris-Pincus. " So many things affect blood sugar beyond what we eat. Aside from genetics we cannot change, things we can improve on include:

-Poor sleep hygiene

-Poor stress management

-Lack of adequate physical activity- both cardio and strength training

-Excess calorie consumption- especially an excessive intake of ultra processed foods high in added sugar, fat and sodium."

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How to Help Prevent Diabetes

Portrait of confident doctor in private clinic

"There are many small changes people can make to help prevent diabetes," Harris-Pincu states. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight for YOU. Each person is different and BMI is only one measure. If you have elevated blood sugar and are overweight or obesity, a modest 5-7% weight loss may help to significantly improve blood glucose.
  • Get the recommended 7-9 hours of quality, restful sleep each night. Try to avoid screens one hour before bed if you have difficulty falling asleep and avoid eating 3 hours before bed if you experience acid reflux that interferes with your sleep. 
  • Manage stress through physical activity, quality sleep, breathing exercises, meditation, enjoyable activities and nutritious food.
  • Eat blood sugar stabilizing meals that are rich in fiber and protein with fruit, veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low/nonfat dairy, and lean proteins."

RELATED: Here's How You Get Diabetes, Say Experts

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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