Type 2 diabetes is deceptively benign in the beginning because the faulty mechanism that drives it takes some to cause disruption. The mechanism in question is high blood sugar levels – an ever-present threat for diabetics. Blood sugar is the main type of sugar found in blood. People with diabetes are prone to unstable blood sugar levels because their insulin production – the hormone that polices the substance – is impaired. The result is unconstrained blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar is responsible for the symptoms of type 2 diabetes because it interferes with bodily processes.
As Dr Efthimia Karra, consultant endocrinologist at The Physicians’ Clinic at The Harley Street Clinic explained to the Express.co.uk, the greater the magnitude of high blood sugar, the greater the extent of symptoms.
According to Dr Karra, untreated hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can result in severe dehydration and accumulation of toxic acids (ketones) in the blood and urine (ketoacidosis).
Other late warning signs include:
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Abdominal pain
- Increased respiratory frequency (i.e. breathing too fast) and a feeling of shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
Moreover, the destructive effects of high blood sugar levels can lead to sleep disturbances.
As Dr Karra explained, High glucose levels, increased frequency and volume of urination and feeling very thirsty hungry are symptoms of high blood sugar that can have knock-on effects.
“These symptoms can disrupt sleep due to nocturia (passing urine at night) and feelings of nocturnal thirst and hunger,” she explained.
Moreover, high blood sugar levels can result in symptoms of irritability, restlessness, unsettling and feeling very hot.
“These symptoms can disrupt sleep and can result in awakening in the middle of the night with clamminess and sweating,” Dr Karra pointed out.
Patients with diabetes and hyperglycemia can also manifest Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), said Dr Karra.
This is a condition where the patient feels the need to move their legs while sitting or lying down, which can make it hard to sleep.
Poor diabetes control with chronically high levels of blood sugar can also lead to diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy refers to nerve damage in the feet or legs that interferes with sensation and can cause symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness and burning.
“In their turn these symptoms may make it difficult to sleep and can result in awakening in the midst of the night due to these unpleasant sensations,” explained Dr Karra.
How to stabilise blood sugar levels
Luckily, high blood sugar levels can be lowered by making healthy lifestyle decisions.
A healthy diet and keeping active will help you manage your blood sugar level.
According to the NHS, there’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
- Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta
- Keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals.
“If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week,” says the NHS.
You should also aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week to keep blood sugar levels under control, adds the health body.