Header image: diabetes warning signs

Older adults with diabetes are:

  • 2X MORE LIKELY to visit an emergency room
  • 2X MORE LIKELY to develop dementia
  • 2X MORE LIKELY to die from heart disease or stroke

Type two diabetes warning signs are sneaky things, wreaking havoc in our bodies long before it’s detected.

For the undiagnosed, the statistics are disturbing. Out of the 30+ million people with diabetes, almost 24 percent of them are undiagnosed, and it’s rapidly becoming the most prevalent health crises in America today. 

Why are diabetes warning signs missed by so many? Unlike health issues with more obvious symptoms, they mimic other (often less serious) issues, or escalate so subtly they easily escape detection.

Learn more: Are you at risk?

The top three warning signs appear to be something common to every Arizonian: dehydration. Not only are we failing to recognize and act on dehydration, which is deadly in itself, commonly resulting in falls and hospitalization for our older residents – but we’re failing to recognize it as a deadly warning sign of diabetes.

And when the condition climbs from at-risk to full-blown diabetes? One out of four still remain unaware of their condition, never realizing unmanaged diabetes is putting their life at risk.  

As the seventh leading cause of death and a major influencer in multiple others (such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke) of the top three causes, diabetes is nothing to joke about.

Danger signs to never ignore


1. You’re drinking far more water than usual.

Thirst and more frequent urination are common symptoms of diabetes. Don’t ignore this!

We live in a desert with summers that reach dizzying heights in temperature, so it’s no surprise dehydration is a constant issue. It’s also common to be thirsty more often as summer approaches.

Who doesn’t need more water when it’s hot, right? And who doesn’t visit the bathroom more as a result of the increased hydration?

But consider this: dehydration is a leading factor influencing hospitalization for older adults, who commonly don’t hydrate enough. It’s dangerous in itself and even more dangerous to the undiagnosed diabetic who can be thrust into diabetic shock quickly when dehydrated. Their bodies release adrenaline and other hormones that block insulin, which kicks diabetes into overdrive as the body stops processing glucose.

Dehydration goes from being extremely dangerous to becoming deadly.

For someone who isn’t aware of their diabetes, ending up in the hospital from dehydration may be the driving factor leading to a diagnosis.

Drink up!

Why does diabetes cause excessive thirst? Learn more here: https://timesulin.com/why-does-diabetes-cause-excessive-thirst/  


2. You’re having eye issues. 

Dry eyes can be a problem in Arizona and the quick answer is often this: drink more water and use eye drops to add moisture.

“Go buy Systane at Costco,” people say.

It’s not always the right answer, though. If you are having issues with blurry vision, it isn’t always a need for new glasses, allergies or dryness. It’s a common sign of diabetes that goes unrecognized.

High blood sugar levels trigger fluid shifts in your body that impact the lens of your eyes, resulting in temporary changes to vision, and low blood sugar can also cause blurriness or double vision. The very fact that it’s a fleeting symptom that comes and goes makes it tempting to ignore, but it’s noteworthy – especially if it happens in conjunction with other diabetes warning signs.

Learn more about diabetes and blurred vision here: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/blurry-vision


3. No amount of lotion helps your dry, itchy skin.

Dry climates can give you dry eyes, so a dry mouth and dry skin doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. They go hand-in-hand. But when nothing helps and you might as well own stock in Aveeno, it’s time to take a closer look… Especially when all of these problems happen at once.

Science hasn’t quite discovered why skin problems are associated with diabetes, although it may be fluids in your body are directed elsewhere, decreased circulation or nerve damage, but fungal and yeast infections are also common.

Do this.

It’s never a bad idea to drink more water, and keep an eye on how much you actually drink daily.

The use of a humidifier can also be invaluable.

If despite this, you’re having signs of dehydration, it’s important to realize it may be something more. Please schedule an appointment with your physician.

Should you be tested?

For those over forty, it’s important not to wait for a convergence of symptoms before getting tested.

Making the blood test for diabetes a part of every annual exam is ideal, along with being proactive in recognizing even the smallest changes to your health.

Diabetes may be prevented or delayed.

Sun Health’s Center for Health & Wellbeing offers accredited Diabetes Self-Management Education, Diabetes Prevention classes, along with related prediabetes health classes, nutrition counseling and personal health coaching.

Visit our website to learn more, or find the nearest upcoming class to your location.


(Originally published May 4, 2018; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)

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