Clues your body gives about diabetes

By Colleen Seto

More than one million Canadians have diabetes and don’t know it.

That’s because, for many, diabetes gives no clues or symptoms.

If you’re 40 or over, the best way to detect diabetes is to discuss your health and possible risk factors with your healthcare provider. Together, you may also consider getting screened for diabetes even if you display none of the signs of the disease. These include:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection.

If you do have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Diabetes in children

Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood between the ages of 10 and 14. Why children get it is unknown: most children living with diabetes have no family history of the disease.

In 2015, about 3,800 children in Alberta had Type 1 diabetes. Knowing the symptoms, particularly if your child is drinking, urinating and sleeping more than usual, can help with an early diagnosis.

“Most kids will experience a few days to a week of changes in the way they pee,” says Dr. Neil Cooper, a Calgary pediatrician. “They may have accidents, get up at night to pee, and have to pee a lot at school. By the end of the week, parents notice something is wrong, and take them to the doctor.” The key is to have your child tested right away.

When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, a healthcare team works with their whole family to manage the disease. And children are encouraged to take part in their diabetes care right from the start. Even young children can choose which finger to test, and read numbers on the meter. When diabetes is well managed, children can have good health their entire lives.

This story appears in the latest issue of Health Matters magazine. Read the full issue here.