Diabetes: keep your eyes out for these red flags

By September 22, 2016Diabetes

As a diabetic, you probably know all about the potential complications of your condition: diabetic coma, blindness, ulcers, lost limbs to name but a few your birth certificate. Steering clear of these means you need only look after one thing: the perfect balance of blood sugar. But this can be a difficult task. How do you know you’re spiking or dipping, when your blood sugar monitor is not at hand?

Here are some red flags to keep an eye out for, so you can walk the tight-rope of a perfectly balanced blood glucose level:

Flags for low blood sugar

Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for a blood sugar level that is too low. Since a hypoglycaemic coma is the most common cause of a diabetic coma, it is extremely important that diabetics, their relatives, colleagues and care-givers know how to recognise the signs:

  • confusion, difficulty speaking, feeling of “difficulty thinking”
  • feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • sudden fatigue or weakness
  • anxiousness, irritability, shakiness
  • sudden extreme hunger
  • nausea
  • sweating, clammy hand palms
  • blurred vision
  • aggression without reason

“Hypoglycaemic unawareness” happens when a diabetic’s blood sugar level drops dangerously low without warning (occurs most often in type 1 diabetics and people who’ve already had diabetes for a long time).

Flags for high blood sugar

There are 2 types of diabetic comas that can occur as a result of blood sugar levels that are too high:

  • DKA / Diabetic keto-acidosis
  • Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome

Warning signs can include:

  • drowsiness/decreased alertness, confusion
  • unquenchable thirst, frequent urination (lasting for a day or longer)
  • sweet/fruity odour breath
  • increased heart rate
  • either deep fast breathing or slowed breathing
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle aches, headache, dry or flushed skin
Read  Could you have diabetes?

Flags for the complications of Diabetes:

A heart attack or angina

  • chest pain/discomfort (remember that diabetics may experience less chest pain during a heart attack, due to nerve damage caused by the diabetes)
  • pain/discomfort that spreads to the jaw, arms, back, neck or stomach area
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • dizziness

A stroke or “mini-stroke” / T.I.A.

  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or co-ordination
  • severe headache

Kidney problems

  • swollen ankles or feet
  • increased urination at night time
  • pale skin/lemon-tinged skin colour
  • weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle cramps

Eye problems

  • difficulty seeing
  • night vision difficulty
  • double vision, loss of vision

Nerve damage

  • warning signs include itching, numbness, tingling, burning of the hands and feet
  • diabetics are less able to feel pain, pressure, hot or cold (especially of their hands and feet) – this can result in a foot injury or infection going unnoticed  with serious consequences
  • erectile dysfunction

Circulation problems

  • high blood pressure
  • pain felt in the calf muscle or leg when walking, especially if it relieves after resting for a few minutes
  • cold extremities
  • erectile dysfunction
  • sores on the feet or lower legs that heal slowly or form an ulcer

If you have any of these symptoms, or you’re worried about the general control of your diabetes, feel free to contact our doctors via the App, or make an appointment with your GP. Stay on top of your condition, and you won’t have any regrets.