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Health

Experts reveal the only subtle warning sign of diabetes that can appear YEARS before other symptoms

By John Ely, Deputy Health Editor for Mailonline

6:12 p.m. on May 22, 2024, updated 6:15 p.m. on May 22, 2024



Do you feel dizzy or faint when standing? You could be at risk of developing diabetes in the future, a study suggests.

Hungarian researchers say they have discovered that patients at risk of type 2 diabetes are up to six times more likely to suffer from nerve damage affecting the heart linked to the disease.

Signs of this damage, called neuropathy, include feelings of malaise and dizziness, and can be detected “years” before diabetes is diagnosed, experts say.

Neuropathy is a medical term for nerve damage and is already a known complication of diabetes.

However, researchers at Semmelweis University say that patients show subtle signs of this damage even before their diabetes is fully developed.

Do you feel dizzy or faint when standing? You could be at risk of developing diabetes, study suggests (stock image)

They say their findings could be used to track signs of neuropathy in patients at risk for diabetes and then slow or prevent nerve damage.

Neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes because of the way high blood sugar damages the small blood vessels that supply nerves.

In the long term, this can lead to nerve damage and cause different symptoms depending on which nerves are affected.

This usually results in what is called peripheral neuropathy that causes numbness, tingling, burning, pain, cramping, and weakness in the feet and hands that can eventually spread to the entire limb.

Other types of neuropathy that diabetics may suffer from include problems with their senses, the signal received by their organs, and the ability to control their hands.

In their study, published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, researchers found that people at increased risk of diabetes were 5.9 times more likely to have a type called parasympathetic neuropathy than healthy people.

Parasympathetic neuropathy is a type of damage to the nerves that govern how our body rests, for example by sending signals to reduce our heart rate.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that causes blood sugar levels to be too high.

It is estimated that more than 4 million people in the UK have some form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight, and you may be more likely to have it if it runs in the family.

This condition means that the body does not respond properly to insulin – the hormone that controls the absorption of sugar into the blood – and cannot regulate blood sugar levels properly.

Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, because its accumulation makes it more difficult to control glucose levels and also makes the body more resistant to insulin.

Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and controlling symptoms.

Symptoms include fatigue, thirst and frequent urination.

This can lead to more serious problems with the nerves, vision and heart.

Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more severe cases may require medication.

Cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN), a type of heart-related nerve damage, was specifically highlighted in the study as being more common in the diabetes risk group, again 5.9 times.

Symptoms of CAN include an inability to exercise for more than a very short time and low blood pressure which may make you feel dizzy or faint when you stand up, according to the NHS.

The researchers said they also found a higher incidence of sensory neuropathy in the at-risk group, but added that this was observed in the study patients.

Study author Anna Körei, assistant professor of medicine and oncology at Semmelweis, said: “We were looking for signs of neuropathy in patients with normal blood sugar levels but at higher risk of developing diabetes.

“We went back in time and looked at an earlier stage, where risk factors may have been present but there was no clear indication of (pre-)diabetes.”

They are studying the health test results of 44 people assessed as being at high risk of developing diabetes and 28 healthy controls.

Participants had their heart rates measured, as well as tests of how their bodies responded to sensations such as aching, burning pain, and numbness.

Concluding their study, the authors stated that their findings warrant further research.

The authors acknowledge that their study had several limitations, the most important being the small overall number of participants.

Another factor was that although participants were asked to stop taking medications that might influence the results, the authors could not guarantee that they followed this instruction.

In the UK, around five million people live with diabetes, and of these, around 850,000 are unaware they have it.

A recent report from Diabetes UK suggests there has been a staggering 39 per cent rise in type 2 diabetes among people under 40, a trend which has been blamed on rising levels of obesity.

There is no cure for diabetes-related neuropathy, but medications are available to combat the symptoms it causes.

Nerve problems that help detect pain in the feet are one reason why diabetics are advised to check their feet frequently, as they may not feel any sores that can become dangerously infected.

News Source : www.dailymail.co.uk
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