Over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year, yet many cases continue to go undetected. Diabetes is not always easy to notice. So, identifying a wide variety of the possible warning signs and symptoms associated with diabetes could mean the difference between the illness going undiagnosed and finding the treatment plan you need to live a happy and healthy life.
While common symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, and extreme hunger, some people may experience more unusual symptoms. Many of these symptoms may appear to be unrelated to the illness and even seem counterintuitive, like weight loss. Here are a few additional diabetes symptoms that can be particularly difficult to spot.
Changes in Vision
Diabetes can lead to blurry vision for a few reasons. In most cases, these vision changes are temporary. As blood sugar levels become too high, this can damage the retinas and cause eye fluid levels to fluctuate. Then, once blood sugar levels return to normal, vision usually returns to normal as well. If diabetes goes untreated for too long, however, your eyes could become permanently impaired.
Long-term causes of blurry vision include diabetic retinopathy, which refers to retinal disorders that are caused by diabetes. One common type of diabetic retinopathy is proliferative retinopathy. Proliferative retinotherapy occurs when blood vessels leak into the center of the eye, causing blurry vision, spots, and poorer night vision. Those with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing glaucoma and macular edema, two vision problems that can cause wavy or blurry vision, loss of vision, and color changes. If you have noticed any unusual changes in your vision, reach out to your doctor to make sure they aren’t a sign of an underlying health concern. Regular eye exams can also help you stay on top of these changes and improve your eyesight.
Men with diabetes also commonly experience erectile dysfunction on top of their other symptoms. Usually stemming from the nerve and blood vessel damage caused by diabetes, erectile dysfunction can also be linked to other conditions common to diabetes like high blood pressure and heart disease. Often, the symptoms associated with ED also subside when men address their diabetes. As high levels of blood sugar return to normal, blood vessels regain their strength and are better able to allow blood flow into the penis.
Many men are embarrassed to talk about erectile dysfunction with their doctors and partners. However, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed. Don’t hesitate to bring it up with your doctor just to be safe and rule out other possibilities like diabetes. Erectile dysfunction could be the reason why you discover you have another health condition.
Diabetes can also hurt your immune system. When there is too much sugar in your blood, white blood vessels become less efficient and are unable to fight off infections. Similarly, the presence of high sugar levels in certain areas of your body can make them more likely to grow an infection, as well as make them harder to treat. Not only are infections more probable, but they will also probably continue to show up even after initial treatment.
Those with diabetes are particularly prone to developing the following infections:
- Foot infections: Diabetic nerve damage can cause a loss of sensation in the feet, which can then make them more susceptible to developing an infection.
- Yeast infections: Though more common in women, men can also develop yeast infections, which can show up as a scaly, itchy rash on the penis.
- Urinary tract infections: Diabetes can also increase the odds of developing UTIs, which are marked by an urgent need to go and a burning pain when you do.
- Skin infections: Your skin is also at risk of developing infection because of fewer white blood cells. Common symptoms of a skin infection include a rash and redness of the skin, but you may also experience pus, blisters, or peeling.
- Surgical site infections: After a surgery, you are already at an increased risk of developing an infection, but diabetes can increase this risk even further.
If you are experiencing any combination of the symptoms associated with diabetes, reach out to your doctor. They will be able to screen for any underlying health concerns, develop a treatment plan, and help you address these symptoms so you can feel happier and healthier. To learn more about other symptoms associated with diabetes, read our blog on erectile dysfunction and diabetes.