If you have diabetes, it's important to pay attention to even the most subtle signs or changes in your condition. According to the American Diabetes Association, the majority of complications that result from diabetes are caused by elevated blood sugar levels over extended periods of time. Fortunately, attention to detail can help prevent the devastating consequences of uncontrolled and unchecked diabetes.  

1. Symptoms: shakiness, sweating, weakness, dizziness, irritability, hunger, headache. Later symptoms: mood swing, staggering gait, weepiness or anger

Indicates: Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

What to do:

-Check blood sugar to confirm; take 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate immediately (4 ounces juice or regular soda; 3 to 4 teaspoons sugar in water; 4 to 5 glucose tablets)
-Test blood sugar again in 10 to 15 minutes; repeat ingestion of 15 grams of carbohydrate if glucose level is still below 70 mg/dl. Eat a meal within the hour. If symptoms persist, call the doctor
-If extreme confusion occurs, call the doctor

2. Symptoms: Thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, drowsiness, blurred vision

Indicates: High blood sugar (over 240-300 mg/dl) 

What to do:

-Check blood sugar
-Continue normal eating
-Check urine for ketones if blood sugar is over 240-300 mg/dl
-Drink water often
-Notify doctor or diabetes educator

3. Symptoms: High blood sugar and abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, extreme drowsiness, rapid breathing, flushed skin, sweet fruity odor to breath

Indicates: Diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by lack of insulin

What to do:

-Test for urine ketones
-Call doctor immediately or go to emergency room

4. Symptoms: Pain and numbness, tingling sensation in the extremities

Indicates: Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage that affects feeling in the hands and feet)

What to do: 

-Discuss with physician
-Protect the feet from injury
-Discuss foot care with diabetes educator and/or podiatrist

5. Symptoms: Blurred Vision

Indicates: Diabetic macular edema (accumulation of fluid in the central part of the retina of the eye)

What to do:

-Contact physician
-Be sure to schedule a dilated eye exam every year