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Type 2 diabetes can contribute to a number of serious conditions – not least heart disease – so it is important to act on the warning signs as soon as they show up. The problem is, detecting symptoms can be tricky because they are often subtle or nonexistent in the beginning. In fact, you can live with diabetes for many years without realising.
Symptoms often become perceptible when the mechanisms that underpin diabetes assert themselves – namely, high blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycaemia, is a constant threat posed by type 2 diabetes.
Blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in blood – is obtained through eating food and supplies the cells with energy and nutrients.
However, blood sugar levels must be kept within a healthy range because if they exceed a certain threshold, they start to inflict damage on the body.
Your pancreas is normally charged with regulating blood sugar levels by releasing insulin – a hormone that stops blood sugar levels rising.
However, if you have type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar or the insulin it does produce is not taken up by the cells.
The subsequent damage wrought by high blood sugar levels can cause the body to undergo acute changes, which double up as symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
One telltale sign you have high blood sugar levels and, subsequently, type 2 diabetes, is a strong and bad smell of urine.
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As Diabetes.co.uk explains, smelly urine is a sign of lower urinary tract infections – bacterial infections affecting the bladder and the tube that transports urine from your bladder out of your body via the penis or vagina.
High blood sugar levels can cause urinary tract infections as sugar in the urine makes for a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, explains the health body.
Other telltale signs of high blood sugar levels include:
- Increased thirst and a dry mouth
- Needing to pee frequently
- Blurred vision
- Unintentional weight loss
- Tummy pain
- Feeling or being sick
- Breath that smells fruity.
How to respond
According to Diabetes.co.uk, lower urinary tract infections can often be treated by taking antibiotics for a few days.
“Painkillers may also be taken to treat any associated stomach or back pain,” adds the health body.
In the long-term, implementing healthy lifestyle changes can help to stabilise blood sugar levels.
There are two key components to blood sugar control – diet and exercise.
In regards to the former, there are certain foods you should limit to avoid blood sugar spikes.
Simple carbohydrates, such as baked goods and sweets, are particularly risky because they are broken down quickly by the body and therefore have a pronounced effect on blood sugar levels.
Complex carbs, which include whole-wheat items, are processed more slowly and have less of a marked impact.
Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level – You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week, advises the NHS.
You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath.
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