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Health Beat: Diabetes warning signs: What you don’t know could kill you

Published On: Sep 05 2013 12:35:28 PM EDT



There are 25.8 million people in the United States with diabetes. That’s about one in every 12 people.

Diabetes is often called the silent killer because there can be no warning signs, or signs you didn’t know to look out for.

Shannon Lyles is a registered nurse and a diabetes educator who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at 16 after she realized something was really wrong.


"I was getting up four, five, six times a night, and it just kept progressively getting worse," said Lyles, registered nurse specialist, University of Florida Pediatric Endocrinology.

"Typical features are polydipsia, meaning drinking too much, and polyuria, urinating too much," said Dr. Desmond Schatz, professor and associate chairman of pediatrics, medical director, Diabetes Center, University of Florida College of Medicine.

Schatz said those are two common signs of diabetes, but there are lesser known symptoms we shouldn’t ignore.  

"A child, for example, who's been potty trained and then suddenly starts wetting the bed at night. Constipation may occur in addition, particularly in those patients who are under the age of 10, and the appearance of recurrent boils on the skin," Schatz explained.

Also, look for changes in a child's energy, and for girls, "we certainly can explain it in babies with diapers, but if a 5- or 6-year-old develops recurrent vaginal infections, you should think about diabetes," Schatz said.

Call it a twist of fate or mere coincidence, but Schatz diagnosed Lyles more than a decade ago and today, they partner up in the fight against diabetes.

"It's forever. So, it's never going away unless they come up with a cure," Lyles said.

CDC numbers show that there are 25.8 million people in the U.S. with diabetes and seven million have not been diagnosed yet. While the statistics are alarming, doctors remain optimistic.

"There’s always hope," Schatz said.

Adults should be aware of high blood pressure, kidney damage, nerve damage, and if left undiagnosed, the result could be fatal.

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