Risk factors and symptoms of diabetes

The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched. However, having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease. Environmental factors and exposure to some viral infections have also been linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)*
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) is a category of higher than normal blood glucose, but below the threshold for diagnosing diabetes. Changes in diet and physical activity related to rapid development and urbanisation have led to sharp increases in the numbers of people developing diabetes.

Pregnant women who are overweight, have been diagnosed with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or have a family history of diabetes are all at increased risk of developing Gestational diabetes (GDM). In addition, having been previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes or being of certain ethnic groups puts women at increased risk of developing GDM.

Symptoms of Diabetes

People with pre-diabetes and diabetes frequently experience certain non-specific symptoms. Some diabetics have no symptoms at all and the disease is discovered as a result of a routine blood test.

Symptoms include:

  • being very thirsty
  • frequent urination
  • weight loss
  • increased hunger
  • blurry vision
  • irritability
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • frequent skin, bladder or gum infections
  • wounds that don’t heal
  • extreme unexplained fatigue
03 September 2020

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