Several of my good friends just passed the big 5-0 milestone, and, if they're like me, they may start noticing some health problems they hadn't seen before. Some issues, like not being able to see the dinner menu without reading glasses, are often viewed as merely minor annoyances.
But, according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), small symptoms—yes, even those aging eyes—could be signs of type 2 diabetes.
You see, your risk of developing this disease increases as you age, so even if you have no family history, it should still be on your health radar. An estimated 7 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and don't realize it. Could you be one of them?
If you are 45 or older and experience any of these symptoms, the AADE recommends asking your doctor about getting tested for diabetes:
You find it harder to see or hear clearly. Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as in those who don't have the disease. And a build-up of glucose in the blood can make your vision blurry by distorting the shape of the lens in your eye.
You feel tired and grouchy. Age may slow us down a little, but if you feel exhausted and irritable all the time, see your health care professional.
You're having unusual skin or nerve symptoms. Dry, itchy skin may just mean your skin isn't as supple and moist as it used to be—or it can indicate diabetes. Other indications may include dark, velvety patches of skin around the neck or other parts of the body, cuts and bruises that don't heal and tingling and numbness of the hands and feet. Excessive glucose can damage your blood vessels and nerves.
You feel hungry—constantly! When your body doesn't use glucose effectively, it needs more fuel. So, you always feel hungry and want to eat.
You are continually thirsty and go to the bathroom a lot. These are related. If you have diabetes, your body tries to get rid of the glucose that's building in your blood, so you urinate frequently. When you do, you lose a lot of fluid, leaving you dehydrated and thirsty.
If you have any of these symptoms, don't be afraid to seek help. Within two weeks of my 50th birthday, I found out I had asthma, gingivitis and basal cell cancer. I sought help immediately and all are under control, thanks to regular screening and prompt treatments.
Likewise, diabetes is manageable, but your best chance of staying healthy longer is to seek treatment early. So, talk with your health care professional and look for a diabetes educator who can help you be as healthy as possible by managing your condition to fit your lifestyle. Find a diabetes educator near you.