Health And Wellness

6 Subtle Signs Of Diabetes You Might Miss

Photo: Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels via Canva
woman with diabetes

We'd expect some hints that we have diabetes, but that's not always the case. Most adults diagnosed have no diabetes symptoms whatsoever, and in those who do have symptoms, they are often very subtle and can be easily missed.

“The most common symptoms are frequent urination (peeing constantly), excessive thirst (because you are peeing constantly), and blurry vision (due to fluid buildup in the eyes),” says Dr. Cara Pensabene of EHE Health.

"Other signs of diabetes include numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, unintentional weight loss, increased fatigue, skin darkening (in areas like the back of the neck, under the armpits, or in the groin), and frequent (vaginal) yeast infections in women." 

Be sure to look out for the following 6 signs of diabetes, as some can be extremely serious and lead to further complications:

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1. Fatigue

Fatigue is different than just being tired, which can often be relieved through rest. Even after resting, someone with fatigue still feels exhausted and lethargic.

Why? According to Dr. Romi Chopra, an interventional radiologist and founder of MIMIT Health, “This happens in those with diabetes as a result of being overweight, change in blood sugar levels, or from mental and emotional issues associated with not being diagnosed with diabetes and wondering what is going on.”

2. Thirst

Thirst and/or increased urination is due to the production of excess sugar, which builds up in the blood.

“This build-up causes the kidneys to work overtime to try and absorb or filter excess sugar. When it is not absorbed, it is discharged in the urine, which depletes the body of fluids, causing increased urination. Due to increased urination and loss of fluids, the body becomes dehydrated and thirsty,” Dr. Chopra warns.

3. Hunger and/or weight loss

Dr. Chopra says, “Weight loss and increased hunger also come as a side effect of increased urination because it is a loss of calories. Simultaneously, diabetes is keeping sugar from the cells, which is the cause for the increased hunger.”

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4. Vision issues

Blurry vision is often a symptom of diabetes that goes unnoticed. But what causes it?

According to Dr. Chopra, “It is caused by the build-up of sugar in the blood pulling fluids from the body, including the lens of the eyes. If this is left untreated, new blood vessels may develop behind the eye, damaging the existing vessels, which can eventually lead to vision loss.”

5. Horizontal ridges on fingernails

These are known as Beau’s lines.

“While these are not always a cause for concern as they may only be a symptom of acute trauma, horizontal ridges on the fingernails may indicate a more serious illness like pneumonia or diabetes,” warns Caleb Backe, Certified Personal Trainer for Maple Holistics.

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6. Fruity breath

If your breath smells sweet in the morning, this could be another sign of a bigger issue that you shouldn’t ignore. “Fruity breath could indicate pre-diabetes symptoms that result from inflammatory issues,” says Backe.

7. Tingling, burning, or foot numbness

This may have happened because you wore a pair of ill-fitting shoes, but it could also mean you have prediabetes, and it’s a sign of elevated blood sugar levels.

“The illness causes damage to the circulatory and nervous systems. Prediabetes usually has no symptoms, so full-blown diabetes is usually unpreventable. If your feet feel weird for more than a few weeks, you should make an appointment,” Backe advises.

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Aly Walansky is a lifestyle writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly.