Six Little-Known Diabetes Symptoms

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Six Little-Known Diabetes Symptoms

4. Chest pain

Chest pain can be another sign of underlying diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease than those without diabetes. One symptom of heart disease is angina, which is chest pain or discomfort because the heart muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina may also feel like tightness or pressure in the chest, and can also occur in the shoulder, arms, neck, jaw or back. It may also be mistaken for heartburn. Medications called nitrates, which relax and widen blood vessels to the heart, may be used to treat angina. The underlying heart disease may be treated with lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, eating a healthier diet and controlling blood glucose levels, as well as medications that lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

5. Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction, the inability to achieve an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse, is not only vexing but can also be a sign of diabetes. Chronically high blood glucose levels from diabetes can damage the nerves and blood vessels that make an erection possible. Once the problem is diagnosed, it can be treated with better diabetes control, medications and various devices.

6. Gum disease and bad breath

When diabetes is not well controlled, the resulting high blood glucose levels promote the growth of harmful bacteria. These bacteria help to form a sticky film called plaque, which can cause tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and bad breath. Gum disease (gingivitis) can progress to periodontitis, in which the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that can become infected. Periodontitis can eventually break down the bone and tissue that hold teeth in place, which can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease can be treated by controlling diabetes, practicing good oral hygiene (regular brushing and flossing), and regular visits to the dentist for deep cleaning.

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to seek medical attention.


Want to learn more about diabetes symptoms? Read “Symptoms of Diabetes” and “High Blood Sugar Symptoms.”

Originally Published February 7, 2019


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