November is Diabetes Awareness Month-Fatigue and Dry Mouth: What Your Body Could be Trying to Tell You
By: Angie Mettille, RN, BSN, CDCES
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of people in the United States. It is a result of insulin resistance and/or deficiency, causing blood sugars to be too high. You likely know someone that has diabetes, or maybe have been diagnosed with diabetes yourself. Even if you have never been told that you have diabetes, it is important to be aware of symptoms of elevated blood sugars, also called hyperglycemia.
There are also millions of people in the United States that have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. How do you know that you may have high blood sugars? Whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes or not, it is important to listen to your body and be proactive if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms. These symptoms could be related to dangerously high blood sugars:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Recurrent infections
- Injuries that heal more slowly than usual
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms usually have a gradual onset, but can also be quite sudden. A gradual onset can be more difficult to identify, as people can become accustomed to not feeling well, and are less likely to address these symptoms with their primary care provider. Even if you have annual physicals that include blood work, it is important to realize that hyperglycemia can occur at any time, and the sooner you seek medical help, the better your outcome will be.
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is typically diagnosed in adulthood. Risk factors of developing Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Family history (1st degree relative)
- Physical inactivity
- Native American, African American, Latino, Asian American, and Pacific Islander ethnicity
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
- History of Cardiovascular Disease
- History of Gestational Diabetes
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Acanthosis Nigricans (dark, velvety areas on skin)
Type 1 Diabetes develops more suddenly, usually in children or young adults. There are less defined risk factors associated with developing Type 1 Diabetes, but the lifetime risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes is significantly increased when there is a close relative with the same diagnosis.
For those already living with diabetes, it is a constant goal to avoid hyperglycemia. It can be extremely challenging to keep blood sugars in a healthy range, as diabetes is constantly changing and evolving within one’s body. A strong support system of family and friends is beneficial, as well as regularly scheduled visits with their physician and diabetes care team.
It is most concerning when one experiences hyperglycemia for a long duration of weeks, months, and years, due to the complications that these elevated blood sugars can cause. The list of body systems affected by uncontrolled blood sugars is long, and includes the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, nervous system, and reproductive organs.
Diabetes is one of those diagnoses that unfortunately will never go away. It is also a diagnosis that should never be ignored, due to other medical issues it can cause when not treated appropriately. The good news is, even when you have diabetes, it can be controlled by being educated, leading a healthy lifestyle, and properly taking medications if prescribed by a physician.
The Diabetes Education staff at Veterans Memorial Hospital is happy to assist those who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes, or to help those living with diabetes keep their blood sugars in a healthy range. Please call The Diabetes Department at 563-568-3411 for more information.