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Living with Diabetes

Signs & symptoms of diabetes on Coaches Corner

5/20/2020 by mySugr

Signs & symptoms of diabetes on Coaches Corner

mySugr Coaches Kristen and Maggie go into detail on the common signs and symptoms of diabetes. Learn what to look for, whether everyone experiences these signs and symptoms, and the potential long-term effects.

Thirst, urination, hunger, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision and frequent infections, are some common signs and symptoms of diabetes. 

Note: We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care.


  • What your blood work can tell you
  • Effects of long-term elevated blood sugar 
  • Heart health


Scott K. Johnson - Hey thanks for tuning into another episode of Coaches Corner. It is great to see you again. I'd love to know where you're watching from today. Please let us know in the comments. One small way that mySugr is giving back is by hosting these short conversations with our diabetes coaches to talk about staying healthy in body and mind. We really appreciate you sharing some time with us. Now I do have to give the standard disclaimer. We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care. And another quick housekeeping note. We are shifting to two broadcasts per week through the rest of May. On Mondays and Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Pacific time with the exception of next Monday which is Memorial Day. We're going to take that holiday off. We do have some great topics lined up for the rest of the month. So I do hope you'll join us. Quick hello to a couple of my favorites Mandie, Kathi, hi! Great to see both of you again. Today mySugr coaches Kristen and Maggie talk about the common signs and symptoms of diabetes. So let's jump right into that. All right, hi Kristen, hi Maggie? Great to see you back again. Today we are talking about signs and symptoms of diabetes. So these can come in many different ways for many different people. So let's jump right into them and talk about that.

Kristen Bourque - So you get your pen & paper ready. So there is quite a few potential signs and symptoms of diabetes. So things to be more mindful of, we hear oftentimes increased thirst, but you also might notice more of an increased urination along with that as well. Some people will experience increased hunger on top of that as well. Unintentional weight loss. Fatigue which is kind of a tough one because that could be a number of things but something to kind of be more mindful of. Another one is blurry vision. Cuts and sores that maybe you notice don't heal well. So if you're paying attention to something and it's taking a little bit longer than usual to heal. And then you might get frequent infections. So for example like UTIs often or something along that area, if you notice that you are visiting the doctor more frequently for something like that, that potentially could be another indication, a sign and symptom of diabetes. And then lastly something called acanthosis where it's kind of a darkening, usually we see it around the neck area. It's kind of a darkening of the skin maybe also in the armpits. We usually see that in our younger population but that could be another indication of elevated blood sugar values.

Scott K. Johnson - That's a great list of terrible things.

Kristen Bourque - Long list.

Scott K. Johnson - But I think one of the things that you mentioned especially around the topic of fatigue is that a lot of these symptoms are easily masked or covered up by other factors happening in our life. So if we're busy and maybe not sleeping well or stressed or whatever, we may feel fatigued. And so it can be hard to kind of decipher where that's coming from. Also the case with many people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, these symptoms can kind of creep up slowly, right?

Kristen Bourque - Mm-mmh. Yeah it may it may take some time for you to actually even notice those symptoms. So it really depends on the individual. The duration or how long you've had high blood sugar values. So you know again everyone is very different. And I will say that some people when they actually go in to get blood work, may find out that, hey, actually I didn't even know. Like I'll have patients that come in and say, "Hey, I got my blood lab results done and I have no idea." So some people may not even be aware of those signs and symptoms that I just mentioned. And like you said Scott that's kind of way, it is good to get blood work done because fatigue, maybe even unintentional weight loss, maybe some things that people don't really realize that are going on because we have a lot of other factors to be more mindful and aware of in our day to day life. So getting blood work done is really the best way to ensure that you're kind of keeping an eye on those numbers because again everyone is so different.

Scott K. Johnson - What are some of the potential long term effects of these symptoms and elevated blood sugars?

Maggie Evans - Great question. So when we think of elevated blood sugars over a long period of time, the best way that I like to explain this is that our blood runs through our entire body. So my entire body is getting some bit of my blood. My blood is elevated in sugar that can start to create various conditions along with it. So when we think of looking at our fingers and our toes, we look at all those little capillaries in there. That in and of itself if there's elevated blood sugar there that can impact our ability to feel the sensation in those fingers and toes. So for some people long term if we don't have adequate management of our blood sugars we get a tingling sensation and we lose feeling/sensation in those, what we call extremities or fingers and toes. Along with that, we may not feel certain cuts or scrapes and things like that. So for a lot of people with diabetes, it's very important to watch our feet, look and see if there are any new calluses or cuts and scrapes because another aspect with long term elevated blood sugars is that there tends to be poor wound healing. So it can take a lot longer for some of these things to heal. So we really want to be watching that and kind of managing foot care and things like that. Another thing, our kidneys. Our kidneys filter lots of different toxins out. It helps, there's a lot of different little capillaries and blood flow through there as well. So we tend to see a long term effect on kidney health which may even lead to chronic kidney disease. So that's another kind of key area of long term blood sugar management that we want to look at. Another key area our eyes. See all those little blood vessels in there as well. So that can also impact our eye health. So as Kristen mentioned, if we have really high blood sugars, we may have blurry vision. So getting routine eye checks, going to your eye doctor and making sure even letting them know, "Hey, I have diabetes." They may recommend more frequent checks to make sure that there is no impact or damage on your eyes from diabetes. And then another one to that we don't necessarily think of is our digestion. So lots of blood flow through there. If we have elevated blood sugars over a longer period of time, it can actually impact our ability to digest our food. It can slow down our digestion. So for some people it tends to feel like you get full very quickly. If you eat a meal, you may feel like, ugh, it just kind of sits in there like a rock for a couple of hours. So that can really impact our ability to digest our food well, absorb our food, things like that. So just really kind of recognizing that diabetes has this kind of way of creeping into these other areas of the body. Just recognizing that by managing those numbers long term it can really be helpful to prevent some of these conditions.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, and I think it's especially difficult because many of those things you mentioned aside from the numbness and pains and tingling, you don't feel them. You don't know that that you're experiencing these complications of high blood sugar. So super important to stay in close touch with your doctor if you have regular blood work done and just keep an eye on those things especially if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms that Kristen you mentioned earlier. So checking a blood sugar is a super easy thing for a doctor to do. So it's not any added burden on them. They'd be happy to look at it for you.

Kristen Bourque - Yeah, and Scott when we talk about blood work like you said we're looking at fasting glucose on our blood work and also our A1C which is like an average look at our blood sugar. But your primary care doctor if you have a specialist, also if you have diabetes and generally again, if not they're going to be running a lot of these routine labs to look at your kidney function and what not too. If you do have diabetes they will be checking your feet and all that. So it is important to make sure there's regular checkups with your doctor are so important to either again know if you have a diagnosis of diabetes but also to manage those areas of your health that can be affected by elevated blood sugars for sure.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, definitely. Well, I don't know about you two, but I could go on for a long time about all this stuff. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you want to go a little deeper on or talk about?

Maggie Evans - I just have one last long term impact that I realize I forgot to mention. Our heart, it pumps that blood, right? And so that blood is coming through, that can also impact our heart health, cardiovascular disease can be a very common link with diabetes. So that's another one too, just in terms of long term symptoms that we want to keep an eye on and manage as well.

Kristen Bourque - Yeah, and knowledge is power. So I know this can seem again a little bit overwhelming to hear all of these different symptoms and whatnot, but the best thing is if you are not getting regular checkups, this is a great opportunity to do so. But also we know our bodies better than anyone. So kind of pay attention to those things but definitely those regular checkups like you said, Scott at home if you have diabetes, monitoring regularly is such a valuable tool. So being aware and knowing our numbers is so so important.

Scott K. Johnson - Great points. All right, well, thank you both again. This is very helpful and educational and we'll be back again soon with another topic. All right I hope that was helpful. If you have additional questions or want us to dive deeper, go ahead and leave us those questions or requests in the comments. We are happy to follow up and address them in an upcoming episode. So come back on Monday, actually not Monday. Check that, Monday is the holiday, Memorial Day. So the next episode will be actually a week from today. We will be talking again with Kristen and Maggie diving into the question, the hot topic of can diabetes be cured or reversed? So that should be interesting and entertaining. Until then stay well, have a great holiday weekend. If you're able to take some time off and enjoy yourself, get outside for a walk or what have you. Until then stay well, and we'll see you next time. Bye.

The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.

Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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