Diabetes affects more than 11 million adults over the age of 65 in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association. This accounts for more than 25 percent of the population within this age group. As November is National Diabetes Month, it's important that as a health professional you're educating older patients on the warning signs of the disease.
The International Diabetes Confederation explained that while the onset of Type 1 diabetes is usually dramatic and sudden, people and their doctors can work together to look for Type 2 diabetes symptoms, which are easier to detect. However, the warning signs can be mild in some adults, which makes it essential to keep a close eye on patients who are particularly vulnerable to diabetes as a result of conditions like high blood pressure.
During National Diabetes Month, emphasize the importance of identifying these five common warning signs of Type 2 diabetes.
1. Frequent urination
One of the most obvious signs of Type 2 diabetes is having to use the bathroom more frequently than usual. Everyday Health noted that this occurs because people have excess glucose in their blood, and the kidneys get rid of it in the form of urine. This ultimately results in the production of more urine than a healthy system makes. Encourage patients who have to use the restroom more than once every hour to consult with you, as this may be a symptom of diabetes.
2. Sudden weight loss
The IDF pointed out that when people have to urinate frequently, they lose a lot of calories and water, which causes them to lose weight. This is particularly common when patients have had diabetes for a while without seeking treatment. Another cause of this side effect is the cells throughout the body not being able to get enough glucose. Patients should always see their doctor if they experience unexpected or uncontrollable weight loss, as this is also a common warning sign of cancer.
Often noticed during the early stages of Type 2 diabetes, fatigue is a difficult symptom to recognize, but when experienced chronically is a telltale warning sign of the disease. According to Diabetes Self-Management, when people are affected by diabetes, their muscles resist insulin and don't get a sufficient amount of glucose to keep the body energized. As fatigue is also a symptom of low iron levels and several other prevalent illnesses, remind patients that they should inform their doctor if they're affected by it. However, they shouldn't be convinced they have Type 2 diabetes unless fatigue is accompanied by other side effects associated with diabetes.
4. Blurred vision
Inform patients that when blood sugar levels are high, the amount of fluid in the lenses of the eyes decreases. The shape of the lenses are usually able to bend when necessary, but diabetes reduces the membrane's ability to move with ease, explained Everyday Health. This is what makes it challenging for the eyes to focus. While the symptom can be alarming, it's usually only present in the very beginning stages of Type 2 diabetes and eventually goes away.
If patients have reported having frequent infections, especially those that impact the bladder or feet, they should get tested for diabetes. Explain that when blood sugar levels are elevated, yeast and bacteria multiply, making infections more likely. Damage to the skin, blood vessels and nerves on people's feet is also associated with diabetes, but doesn't occur until the later stages of the condition.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living