With over 25 years of experience and 3 board certifications in OB/GYN, Functional medicine and Integrative medicine, I’ve helped thousands of patients struggling with prediabetes, high cholesterol and weight gain to get healthy and decrease their risk of heart disease. After my brother died suddenly at the age of 38 from complications of diabetes, I did further study in preventative health. Problems with blood sugar can lead to diabetes, either type 1 and 2. Having diabetes puts you at an increased risk for heart disease and cancer. For type 2 diabetes, it may be completely preventable. There are many signs of metabolic instability prior to developing diabetes, so it is important to know these signs and symptoms in order to take a proactive approach in preventing diabetes. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
One of the first signs of blood sugar abnormalities is a change in weight. With type 1 diabetes, there is an insufficiency of insulin that leads to high blood sugar. This triggers a response in the body that leads to weight loss. The opposite happens with Type 2 diabetes when there is an excess in insulin. Type 2 diabetes is from insulin resistance, where it requires more insulin to move glucose out of the blood into the fat cells. As a result, there is usually weight gain in the abdomen in the visceral fat.
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Another common sign is fatigue. This could be all day long from glucose levels being either too high or too low. When blood sugar is low ( after a spike in insulin levels) people often feel tired and lethargic. The roller coaster of high and low blood sugar can also trigger the release of the hormone cortisol which can contribute to fatigue. There are many causes of fatigue but one that is labile with energy up and down all day could suggest an issue with blood sugar.
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Another sign is an increase in hunger. Whenever blood sugar drops to a low amount, hunger will be stimulated. This yo-yo of blood sugar levels may make patients feel hungry all day long. However, often in the morning they are not hungry due to high insulin levels. This will vary based on how often the patient is eating or what kind of macros they are eating. For example, a diet high in carbohydrates will cause blood sugar to drop more rapidly. Protein and fat are metabolized slower than carbohydrates.
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An increase in thirst or urination is commonly associated with Type 1 diabetes more than type 2. High blood glucose causes a change in the osmolality of the blood. What this means is the high amount of glucose molecules causes less “fluid” to be available in relationship in the blood. So as a result, fluid is drawn into the blood system to try to even this out or dilute the blood sugar. It can spill into your urine and cause you to feel thirsty or to urinate frequently.
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Other signs of consistently high blood sugar are blurred vision, dizziness and lightheadedness, restlessness or difficulty waking up.
For Type 1 Diabetes, since there is a deficiency of insulin, blood glucose levels can be quite high for some time. Usually patients present in what is called diabetic Ketoacidosis, where the body starts producing ketones to compensate for the excessively high blood sugar.
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If you have any of these signs, you should schedule a check up with your doctor. Most doctors will do a screening fasting glucose, but may not automatically order the Hemoglobin A1C (which is an average of what your blood glucose has been over the past 90 days) or the fasting insulin (which may be abnormal long before your fasting glucose is so its an earlier sign). Finding a doctor who specializes in preventative health could also help.
If don’t have access to a doctor who will order the labs, you can buy a glucometer with test strips and lancets most places for $30. You can check your sugar first thing in the morning when you wake up and again 2 hours after you eat. Fasting glucose should be below 100. An random blood sugar of 200, regardless of when you eat, could suggest diabetes.
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Type 1 diabetes is thought to run in families and potentially be an autoimmune disorder, typically being diagnosed before the age of 19. Now there is type 1.5 diabetes, which is diagnosed later in life, but is still insulin requiring.
With Type 2 diabetes, insulin is high but not effective in the body. Treatment is typically insulin sensitizing medications like metformin.
The important thing to know is, if this is caught early enough, it may be able to be reversed or prevented. In the Diabetes Prevention Trial, high risk patients were treated with metformin or lifestyle and dietary intervention. The lifestyle and dietary intervention were as effective as metformin at preventing type 2 diabetes.
The best screening test for type 2 diabetes are a fasting glucose, a hemoglobin A1C and a fasting insulin. And to ensure your health don’t miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn’t Know Were Deadly.
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Dr. Tara Scott, Hormone Guru, helps people find the cause of their symptoms and get them on a path to optimal health. She is the founder of Revitalize Medical group and Hormone Guru Academy.