Symptoms of Diabetes

You have probably heard of some of the symptoms in people with diabetes, or high blood sugars.  High blood sugars, or hyperglycemia, occurs when the body can no longer maintain a normal blood glucose level. It may be because the body no longer produces insulin, or because the body no longer is able to use the insulin it does make. The glucose is accumulating in the blood stream and is unable to be used by cells.

So what are some symptoms that can point in the direction of diabetes?

Extreme hunger - This happens because the body cannot use the glucose it has in its blood due to the lack of insulin.  This triggers hunger signals to put more fuel in the body, which in effect worsens the situation by further increasing blood sugar. levels.

Frequent urination - Again due to the the osmolality, or blood concentrations, being off balance, this causes the body to rid itself of excess fluid in the from of excess urine.

Extreme thirst - The dehydrating influence of increase urination causes the body to signal a lack of fluid, causing extreme thirst.

Blurry vision- Due to excessive urination and thus dehydration, all cells and organs ar affected, including the eyes.  The drying effect on the eyes and their ability to focus causes the blurred vision.

With awareness of these symptoms, you can educate yourselves on the onset of diabetes.  Very often these symptoms may creep on you or a loved one, but keeping these symptoms in mind will allow you to be tested and perhaps diagnosed sooner than later.  Once the blood sugars are under control with insulin or medication, then these symptoms will decrease.

You've been diagnosed, now what?

1. Inspect your feet every day - Examine the tops and bottoms of your feet to make sure there are no breaks in skin, no areas of redness, or any new blisters or sores that you are not aware of.  Remember to look between your toes, too!  That is a place where moisture gathers, which can cause a break in skin.  

2. If you notice a corn or callus, do not use medicated corn pads, metallic foot files, or other instruments on your feet.  If you have diabetes, you may have neuropathy, or lack of feeling, that may not allow you to feel sensation in your feet.  Neuropathy also may present as numbness or tingling at the tips of your toes.

3. Make sure your shoes fit well.  Your feet may not be the same size as they were a few years ago, and life changes, swelling, or injury may alter the size or shape of your foot.  You should make sure they fit well otherwise they may cause uneven areas of wear and pressure on your skin which could lead to open sores. Have your shoe size checked once a year. Wear shoes with a wide toe box. As a diabetic, you may qualify for special diabetic shoes and special inserts, or orthotics, to cushion your feet. Your podiatrist will determine if the prescription shoes and insoles are right for you.

4. Treat any areas of dry cracked skin on the heels - Due to how diabetes affects your nervous system, and sometimes due to high glucose levels, your skin may appear dry and cracked.  If this is the case, be sure to use a skin cream or lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet, never between your toes!  If these cracks or fissures are not treated they can lead to an opening in the skin causing a local infection.

5. Do not go barefoot - If you have neuropathy, or lack of sensation in your feet, you may be in danger of erroneously stepping on a foreign object that could puncture the skin and you may not feel it.  This could lead to infection or even worse, amputation.

6. Change your socks often - Keeping your feet in clean, mixed cotton/blended socks will allow your feet to both breathe and keep them dry and protected.  100% cotton socks are not recommended as they will allow sweat and moisture to stay up against your skin which could promote an environment for fungus and bacteria to grow.

7. Exercise - Keep moving!  Any exercise you choose, whether it is as simple as walking the dog or taking a stroll around the block, to swimming or biking, is important in keeping the blood flowing to your legs and feet as well as for flexibility. Notify your doctor if you are short of breath or if exercising is uncomfortable to your legs or lower extremity.

8. Quit Smoking - Easier said than done, however, smoking will affect the blood flow to your legs and feet and the effects of lack of circulation to the feet can lead to infection and amputation.

9. Keep your blood sugars under control - You can decrease the negative effects that diabetes has on your feet by watching your diet and monitoring your blood sugars daily.  It will not only help your feet and legs, but this in turn will also help control your neuropathy and help increase your healing potential should you injure your feet.

10. Get your foot checked by a podiatrist at least once a year - We will do a complete lower extremity exam and identify all the issues affecting the health of your feet.  If you have a podiatrist, please pay him or her a visit!  Otherwise, please call the Diabetes Center of Excellence at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic. Visit our website at for more information.

Whatever the reason, it is important to take good care of your feet.  With these simple tools, you can self monitor, and if you see something you are not sure of or think it should be checked by a doctor, don't hesitate to call our office Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic 630-834-3668.  Your feet will thank you!