senior woman sleeping

According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.9% of Americans age 65 and older have some form of diabetes. Though diabetes isn’t caused by age, risk for type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, and the symptoms of diabetes can become more difficult to manage with age. As you age, you should be aware of the common symptoms of diabetes, especially if diabetes runs in your family. These are six of the most common signs, and if you recognize them in yourself or a loved one, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible for a consultation.

1. Frequent Urination and Dry Mouth

If you have diabetes, excess sugar builds up in your blood, requiring your kidneys to work extra hard to filter it out. When your kidneys are unable to keep up with the excess blood sugar, they pull fluids from your tissues to help form urine to flush it out. This leads to more frequent urination, which leaves your body dehydrated. When this occurs, you may experience dry mouth or excessive thirst as your body attempts to compensate for the lost fluids.

2. Fatigue

When your body is dehydrated from frequent urination, you may become more tired than usual. Similarly, because your body cannot make enough insulin to send to your cells, your body doesn’t get the glucose it needs to generate energy, which results in greater fatigue.

3. Weight Loss

Diabetes may prevent the sugar in your food from reaching your cells, which leads to constant hunger and loss of energy. To compensate for this lack of sugar, your body begins burning muscle and fat for energy. This condition, combined with the loss of calories due to frequent urination, can result in rapid weight loss.

4. Blurred Vision

High blood sugar exhausts your body’s stores of fluid and forces your body to pull fluids from your tissues, including parts of your eyes. As the fluid levels in your eyes change, the lenses of your eyes swell. This change in your eye shape affects your ability to focus and results in blurred vision. If left untreated, this problem can worsen and lead to loss of vision.

5. Loss of Sensation to Feet and Hands

When your blood gets too much sugar, it causes nerve damage. This nerve damage impairs your sense of feeling, and you may lose sensation in your hands and feet or feel a burning or tingling sensation in your limbs, hands, or feet.

6. Yeast Infections

Since yeast feeds on sugar, when your body produces excess glucose the yeast around it thrives, often leading to a yeast infection. Both men and women can get these infections, which typically grow in any moist, warm folds of skin, such as those around sex organs, in between fingers or toes, or under breasts.

Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a 2015 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since seniors are particularly vulnerable to this disease, they should also be particularly aware of the warning signs of diabetes. By noticing and addressing the symptoms early on, seniors can prevent the condition from worsening and get the care they need.