June 20, 2018

How to spot the first signs of diabetes


These early signs of diabetes can be mistaken for more minor problems.

Are you really thirsty lately? Really tired?

Symptoms of diabetes can sneak up on a person and seem so minor that they go unnoticed or are attributed to something else.

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination;
  • Feeling very thirsty;
  • Feeling very hungry even though you’ve eaten;
  • Extreme fatigue;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises;
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet.

“Some people have symptoms but don’t realize they’re related to diabetes,” said Elaine Boswell King, quality coordinator of the Diabetes Self-Management Education services at Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Clinic.

Three blood tests can be used to diagnose diabetes. A common one is the fasting blood glucose test, routinely done during a physical. The A1C test measures blood glucose for the previous two to three months. Another test, the oral glucose tolerance test, shows how your body processes glucose.

A doctor may use a combination of these tests for diagnosis.

Early detection and treatment can prevent complications, such as heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems and kidney disease.

If someone is diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to get blood glucose level under control with diet, exercise and medication, said Boswell King.

“There are so many options now for medications that are so tailored to the patient,” she said. “We can even factor in other chronic illnesses to help choose the diabetes medication with an added benefit.

“Diabetes is a labor-intensive disease to manage, as patients decide how to eat based on glucose values that day,” she said. “Making choices based on that makes a difference in avoiding developing complications.

“We know that all this hard work to get blood glucose into normal range is worth it.”

Woman prepares breakfast in the kitchen

Each year, Vanderbilt’s Eskind Diabetes Clinic treats more than 5,000 patients, including those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Patients see a multidisciplinary team, including a registered dietitian and a nurse educator, to help maintain healthy blood glucose ranges. To schedule an appointment at the Eskind Diabetes Center, call 615-343-8332 for adult care and 615-322-7842 for children’s care.