Sunday, September 9, 2007

Diabetes Diagnosis - Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms

The classical triad of diabetes symptoms is polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst and consequent increased fluid intake), polyphagia (increased appetite). Weight loss may occur. These symptoms may develop quite fast in type 1, particularly in children (weeks or months) but may be subtle or completely absent—as well as developing much more slowly—in type 2. In type 1 there may also be weight loss (despite normal or increased eating) and irreducible fatigue. These symptoms may also manifest in type 2 diabetes in patients whose diabetes is poorly controlled.

When the glucose concentration in the blood is high (i.e., above the "renal threshold"), reabsorption of glucose in the proximal renal tubuli is incomplete, and part of the glucose remains in the urine (glycosuria). This increases the osmotic pressure of the urine and thus inhibits the resorption of water by the kidney, resulting in an increased urine production (polyuria) and an increased fluid loss. Lost blood volume will be replaced osmotically from water held in body cells, causing dehydration and increased thirst.

Prolonged high blood glucose causes glucose absorption and so leads to changes in the shape of the lenses of the eyes, leading to vision changes. Blurred vision is a common complaint leading to a diabetes diagnosis; type 1 should always be suspected in cases of rapid vision change whereas type 2 is generally more gradual, but should still be suspected.

Patients (usually with type 1 diabetes) may also present with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), an extreme state of metabolic dysregulation eventually characterized by the smell of acetone on the patient's breath, Kussmaul breathing (a rapid, deep breathing), polyuria, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, and any of many altered states of consciousness or arousal (e.g., hostility and mania or, equally, confusion and lethargy). In severe DKA, coma (unconsciousness) may follow, progressing to death. In any form, DKA is a medical emergency and requires expert attention.

A rarer, but equally severe, possibility is hyperosmolar nonketotic state, which is more common in type 2 diabetes, and is mainly the result of dehydration due to loss of body water. Often, the patient has been drinking extreme amounts of sugar-containing drinks, leading to a vicious circle in regard to the water loss