Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What are the early warning signs for diabetes?"
My father is overweight, probably obese. I?m worried that he is going to have health problems like diabetes. What are the early signs of diabetes? Can he be tested for it even if he doesn?t have any symptoms right now?
It is important to get tested for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels during an annual physical. As you wisely asked, these conditions do not have early warning signs. They can quietly lurk around for years, causing massive harm and often irreversible injuries to your body. Common risk factors for diabetes include obesity, family history, and poor dietary intake. That said, it is possible to detect for diabetes as well as pre-diabetes with a blood sugar check while a patient is fasting. Your father can also get a sugar challenge test (taking a sugary drink followed by a blood test). If the results are elevated (i.e., greater than 126 mg/dl), then he meets the criteria for diabetes. It is important to get it treated as soon as possible because diabetes will affect all parts of your body, mainly through the small blood vessels. By causing disease in the small arteries, it can cause the feet to go numb, ulceration, kidneys to fail, eyes to go blind etc. In fact, diabetes is a leading cause for kidney failure that leads to hemodialysis and kidney transplants. It is also very important to cut out smoking and to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol since these conditions will magnify the problems caused by diabetes. It is important for your father to visit a primary care physician who can initiate testings and potential treatments.
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