EARLY WARNING SIGNS
Frighteningly, type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed. That’s because individuals tend to ignore early symptoms as nothing serious and don’t bother going to the doctor. “Low-level symptoms could be fatigue – just plain, old tiredness – or it could be that they develop more thirst and as time goes by, start having to wake up at night to pass urine,” said Dr Jivan. “As it becomes more severe, they may start to lose weight.”
WHAT HAPPENS IF PATIENTS AREN’T DIAGNOSED EARLY ENOUGH?
The longer type 2 diabetes goes undiagnosed, the more serious symptoms will become. “The danger is that patients can go into a hyperglycaemic coma, which can be fatal, and have acute renal failure, which can have a lasting effect,” said Dr Jaco Buys, a GP at Mediclinic Bloemfontein. “The long-term complications are that they can go blind, develop high blood pressure and other systemic complications, as well as gangrene of their limbs.” What’s more, they may not realise it’s happening until it’s too late. “That’s why we’re concerned – because it’s very much a silent killer. Patients can start developing complications of diabetes and not be diagnosed for a long, long time,” added Dr Jivan.
WHAT CAN PATIENTS DO TO PREVENT IT?
Diagnosing diabetes early is the best way to avoid dangerous complications. “If type 2 diabetes is diagnosed within two years of developing the diabetes, it may be completely reversed just through diet and lifestyle,” says Dr Jivan. “It’s a finger prick. You’ve got the results within 10 seconds, and it costs about R15,” said Dr Buys.
9 SIGNS A PATIENT SHOULD GET TESTED RIGHT AWAY
If your patient answers yes to one or more of these questions, Dr Jivan recommended you encourage them to contact their doctor as soon as possible:
- Are you overweight or obese?
- Are you over the age of 45?
- Do you have a close family member (parent, sibling, grandparent) who has diabetes?
- Have you previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or polycystic ovarian syndrome?
- Have you been feeling unusually and inexplicably tired lately?
- Have you been drinking a lot more water than usual?
- Do you need to pass urine unusually often, especially at night?
- Is your vision blurred?
- Have you gained or lost weight?