Here is a scary statistic – More than 10% of urban Indians have diabetes, and at least half of them who have it don’t know it!
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently published the largest nationally representative study of diabetes in India that includes data from 57,000 people across 15 states.
This is bad news. When left unchecked, the condition can lead to serious complications like heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and vision loss. One of the reasons why so many people end up going untreated is because the symptoms caused by high blood sugar are sneaky. They tend to develop gradually, so you might not realize that you’re sick. And even when you notice something is off, the signs can be vague, so you might not make the connection to diabetes.
That’s why it’s important to know what to watch for. Here are 5 unexpected signs that your blood sugar levels might be too high.
1. You Are Visiting the Bathroom Frequently
Increased urination is a telltale sign that your blood sugar could be out of control. When you have too much glucose—or sugar—in your bloodstream, your kidneys try to flush out the extra through your urine.
As a result, you end up having to pee more often than usual, including in the middle of the night. Since you’re losing so much fluid, you’ll probably feel extra thirsty and your mouth will be dry.
2. You are Tired all the Time
Fatigue is a classic side effect of dehydration. So if you are going to the bathroom more often and are thirstier than usual, you might find yourself feeling exhausted.
You may also be waking up feeling tired in the mornings even though you are going to bed at your usual time.
3. Your Have Blurry Vision
The macula is a small lens in the centre of your eye that’s responsible for sharp central vision. When your glucose levels are too high, fluid can seep into the lens and make it swell up. That swelling can change the shape of the lens, and it’s unable to focus properly. When that happens, your vision can get fuzzy and unclear, even if you are wearing your glasses.
4. Your Gums are Bleeding
The same sugar-loving bacteria that cause your cuts to heal more slowly can also mess with your gums. That can make them red, swollen, tender, and more likely to bleed when you brush. Normally, your body fights off infection-causing germs in your mouth. But the elevated sugars make your mouth a much friendlier place for the bacteria, and decrease your mouth’s natural bacteria-fighting properties.
5. You Are Developing Itchy Skin Patches
Very high blood glucose levels can damage your blood vessels, including the ones that sit directly under your skin. That damage can lead to shiny or scaly reddish-brown patches in the folds of your skin, such as armpits, groin or neck. Excess blood sugar can cause your skin cells to reproduce faster than normal. The new cells have more pigment, which can lead to dark patches, These patches are usually itchy and in some cases painful.
Now that you have identified the symptoms, what’s next?
Feeling unusually thirsty or tired for a day or two probably isn’t a big deal. But if the symptoms stick around for more than a few days, or they are accompanied by other symptoms, get them checked out immediately.
Talk to your doctor and get a blood test to check your blood glucose levels. If it is too high, the doctor may recommend medication to help manage it.
Remember, lifestyle changes can make a big difference too. A healthy diet that’s high in plant-based foods and low in sugar and physical activities has been shown to reverse pre-diabetes and diabetes.