Ask the Expert: Diabetes Symptoms

Jacqui Thomspon
Jacqui Thompson, the Diabetes Program director at Sharp, answers a few questions about symptoms of diabetes.

Why is diabetes becoming more prevalent?
We’ve seen the biggest increase in patients aged 30 to 39 because of our lifestyle. We’re now more sedentary, we’re sitting at computers, sitting at desks, we’re not active, we’re having longer hours, we’re buying fast food, and all of this is impacting the development of diabetes.

Every time you see a fast food restaurant go up, you know that obesity is going to increase within that area in three years.

What are some early symptoms of diabetes to watch out for?
Some of the early symptoms are increased thirst, increased urination, you might feel extreme hunger, you’ll get some changes in your vision, blurred vision, you may get some unexpected weight loss. Some of the other symptoms that are more common, and people will find that they’ve got wounds or infections that just aren’t healing. Or, more common in women, they’ll go to the doctor’s frequently with urinary tract infections or other types of infections.

Who should typically be screened for diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association recommends now that everybody over the age of 45 years has a blood glucose screening. They also recommend if you’re in some of the higher risk groups, Black, American Indian, Mexican or Asian, and you have family members who have had diabetes, that you go from anywhere, age 25 onwards, and have it checked.

When do most people find out they might have diabetes?
Usually when a patient is first diagnosed is when they go to the doctor for their physical or they go to a new job and they have a physical and that they’re told that their blood sugar or their fasting blood glucose is elevated and that they need to follow up with their physician.

Should I be concerned if I’m diagnosed with diabetes?
Because people jump immediately to thinking that this is a disaster, they’re going to end up with complications and they’ll go blind or, you know, they’ll have amputations and foot complications, and this doesn’t need to be the case.

Physicians are very much aware of it, we’re screening much earlier, and the treatments are better than they have ever been. So, don’t lose hope. This definitely does not need to end in a sad situation. It’s very manageable, and you can go about your everyday life.

For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's diabetes services or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego endocrinologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about diabetes, visit Diabetes Care in Adult Health or read the Diabetes News archive.