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            The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

Recognize the Early Signs of Type 2 Diabetes

<p>​Type 2 diabetes is a prevalent chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and over 32 million adults live with diabetes in Pakistan. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is typically diagnosed in childhood, type 2 diabetes often develops in adulthood and is closely linked to lifestyle factors.</p><p>Diabetes does not usually present with clear symptoms, and most people don&#39;t know they have the disease till they get tested. Recognizing the early signs of type 2 diabetes and taking proactive steps to lower your risk is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being. </p><p><strong>Early Signs of Type 2 Diabetes:</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Early signs of diabetes are often subtle enough to be overlooked, yet ignoring these signs can result in more severe health problems in the future; high blood sugar levels can harm your nerves, kidneys, and retinas. Even if the below signs are subtle, it is important to bring them up with your doctor.</p><p><strong>1.</strong> <strong>Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination: </strong>One of the earliest signs of type 2 diabetes is excessive thirst and an increased need to urinate. High blood sugar levels can cause the kidneys to work harder to filter and absorb the excess glucose, leading to increased fluid intake and subsequent urination.</p><p><strong>2.</strong> <strong>Unexplained Weight Loss: </strong>Individuals with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes may experience sudden and unexplained weight loss despite maintaining a regular diet. The body may start breaking down muscle tissue for energy as it struggles to utilize glucose effectively.</p><p><strong>3. </strong><strong>Fatigue and Irritability: </strong>Fluctuating blood sugar levels can contribute to feelings of fatigue and irritability. When cells are unable to receive an adequate supply of glucose for energy, it can lead to persistent tiredness and mood changes.</p><p><strong>4.</strong> <strong>Blurred Vision: </strong>High blood sugar levels can affect the fluid balance in the eyes, leading to blurred vision. This symptom may gradually develop over time and is often one of the first signs that prompt individuals to seek medical attention.</p><p><strong>5. </strong><strong>Slow Wound Healing: </strong>Elevated blood sugar levels can impair the body&#39;s ability to heal wounds and injuries. If cuts and bruises take longer than usual to heal, it may be an indication of underlying diabetes.
</p><p>Women living with type 2 diabetes may have more to manage, with additional symptoms such as longer, heavier periods, recurring yeast or urinary tract infections, weight gain during menopause, or complications during pregnancy. Any such unusual signs should be reported to your doctor.</p><p><strong>Lowering Your Risk:</strong></p><p>Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by adopting certain lifestyle changes that can help you maintain your weight.</p><p><strong>1.</strong> <strong>Maintain a Healthy Diet: </strong>Adopting a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet is essential for diabetes prevention. Focus on whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit the intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages.</p><p><strong>2.</strong> <strong>Regular Physical Activity: </strong>Engaging in regular exercise is a powerful way to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps improve insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 5 days a week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.</p><p><strong>3. </strong><strong>Manage Weight: </strong>Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for diabetes prevention. Even a modest weight loss of 5-10% can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Combine a balanced diet with regular exercise to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.</p><p><strong>4.</strong> <strong>Stay Hydrated: </strong>Drinking an adequate amount of water is essential for overall health, including diabetes prevention. Water helps regulate blood sugar levels and supports the kidneys in flushing out excess glucose. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day.</p><p><strong>5.</strong> <strong>Regular Health Checkups: </strong>Routine health checkups, including blood glucose screenings, can help detect diabetes in its early stages. Monitoring your blood sugar levels allows for early intervention and management, reducing the risk of complications.</p><p>Regular checkups are particularly important since early symptoms of diabetes can be difficult to recognize. Knowing your risk factors for diabetes can help you take the steps for regular checkups and testing. </p><p><strong>Diabetes risk factors include:</strong></p><ul><li>Being overweight</li><li>Being above 45 years of age</li><li>Having a family history of diabetes</li><li>Living with high blood pressure or high cholesterol</li><li>Not being physically active</li><li>Having a history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or above</li><li>Having a history of heart disease, stroke, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).</li></ul><p>Recognizing the early signs of type 2 diabetes and risk factors of diabetes, and taking proactive steps to lower your risk are crucial for maintaining optimal health. By adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, weight management, and staying hydrated, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Regular health check-ups and awareness of potential symptoms empower you to take control of you health and make informed choices to prevent and manage this prevalent chronic condition.​​

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