How to Identify Diabetes Warning Signs

Flu-like symptoms. Diabetes can sometimes feel like a viral illness, with fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite. Sugar is your body’s main fuel, and when it doesn’t reach your cells you may feel tired and weak.

Weight gain or loss. Because your body is trying to compensate for lost fluids and sugar, you may eat more than usual and gain weight. But the opposite also can occur. You may eat more than normal, but still lose weight because your muscle tissues don’t get enough glucose to generate growth and energy. This is especially true if you have type 1 diabetes, in which very little sugar gets into your cells. In fact, most people with type 1 diabetes are at or below their normal weight.

Blurred vision. High levels of blood sugar pull fluid out of the tissues in your body ? including the lenses of your eyes. This affects your ability to focus. Once your diabetes is treated and your blood sugar levels drop, your vision should improve. Over a period of years, however, diabetes can also cause new blood vessels to form in your retina ? the back part of your eye ? as well as damage old vessels. For most people this causes only mild vision problems. But for others, the effects may be much more serious. In some cases, diabetes can lead to blindness.

Slow-healing sores or frequent infections. Diabetes affects your body’s ability to heal and fight infection. Bladder and vaginal infections can be a particular problem for women.

Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar in your blood can damage the small blood vessels to your nerves, leading to a number of symptoms. The most common are tingling and loss of sensation in your hands and especially your feet. You may also experience burning pain in your legs, feet, arms and hands. In addition, more than half the men age 50 and older with diabetes may experience some degree of sexual dysfunction from damage to the nerves that help produce an erection.

Red, swollen, tender gums. Diabetes increases the risk of infection in your gums and in the bones that hold your teeth in place. As a result, your gums may pull away from your teeth, your teeth may become loose, or you may develop sores or pockets of pus in your gums. This is especially true if you have a gum infection before the onset of diabetes.