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Diabetes risk: lesser-known symptoms to monitor

August 6, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than 25 million men and women in the U.S. have diabetes. That means it affects about one in 12 people. There are two well-known symptoms of diabetes, plus several warning signs you may not be familiar with.

Shannon Lyles is a registered nurse, diabetes educator, and was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at 16 after she realized something was really wrong.

"Getting up four, five, six times a night, and it just kept progressively getting worse," said Lyles.

"Typical features are polydipsia, meaning drinking too much, polyuria, urinating too much," said Dr. Desmond Schatz, medical director of the diabetes center at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Dr. Schatz says those are two common signs of diabetes, but there are lesser-known symptoms we shouldn't ignore.

"A child, for example, who's been potty-trained and then suddenly starts wetting the bed at night," said Schatz. "Constipation may occur in addition, particularly in those patients who are under the age of 10. Likewise, the appearance of recurrent boils on the skin."

Also look for changes in a child's energy. And for girls?

"We certainly can explain it in babies with diapers, but if a 5- or 6-year-old develops recurrent vaginal infections, think about diabetes," said Schatz.

Call it a twist of fate or mere coincidence, but Schatz diagnosed Shannon Lyles more than a decade ago, and today they partner up in the fight against diabetes.

"It's forever," said Lyles. "So it's never going away unless they come up with a cure."

CDC numbers show that there are 25.8 million people in the U.S. with diabetes, and 7 million have not been diagnosed yet. Alarming statistics, but doctors remain optimistic.

People with type 2, which is about 90 percent of all cases, do not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in their body don't react to insulin.

Adults should be aware of high blood pressure, kidney damage and nerve damage.

If left undiagnosed the result could be fatal.


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