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Undetected Diabetes: April 2, 2011

Even though the statistics continue to climb, there are still millions of people who simply don't realize they have diabetes. "If you don't address diabetes, you'll probably have high blood sugar and high blood sugar can make you feel really tired. Very sluggish; very crummy to put it bluntly," says Lee Memorial Health System diabetes outpatient coordinator, Sharon Tilbe.

Symptoms associated with diabetes can be deceiving. They can appear to be stress related: such as unusual weight loss and extreme fatigue. Frequent urination or a constant thirst are also warnings. "If left ignored over the course of time, high blood sugar will begin to affect all parts of the body and I can't underplay how important it is to pay attention," adds Tilbe.

Diabetes is categorized as a metabolism disorder. It's when the body has trouble regulating its glucose or sugar levels. These higher-than-normal levels can lead to complications. "Your eyes can become affected. The small blood vessels in the eyes can become damaged by high blood sugar. Small blood vessels in the kidneys can be damaged. The nerve endings, particularly in the toes can be damaged by high blood sugar leading to early stage neuropathy or nerve damage."

This is why annual physicals are important. And if you do notice any of these warning signs, make an appointment. Recent studies find that early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing diabetic complications.