By Peter Laird, MD
Many patients with new onset type II diabetes, also called at times adult onset diabetes, present to their physicians late after already manifesting symptoms of the disease for an extended period of time. Delay in diagnosis, unfortunately, increases the risk of end organ damage such as heart disease, strokes, blindness and amputations of toes and limbs. For some people, simply the fear of having the diagnosis of diabetes paralyzes them into inaction in a state of denial. But the ravages of the disease progress unchecked leading to poor outcomes long term.
One of the strangest stories I have ever heard about ignoring the symptoms of diabetes is the man over the summer who developed an infection in his big toe that he ignored and refused to seek medical care despite the pleas of his wife who suspected the diagnosis of diabetes from her training as a nurse. The issue resolved after his dog ate the infected toe while he was intoxicated. He states he now wares shoes when he is sleeping.
Unfortunately, the incidence of late onset intervention into diabetes is quite common and leads to many of the poor outcomes associated with this disease. Anyone who suspects that they might have diabetes should immediately consult a physician for simple blood tests. These symptoms include fatigue, weight loss or in some cases rapid weight gain, increased hunger and urination, wounds that do not heal quickly, blurry vision and numbness in the toes from nerve damage called neuropathy. The gentleman in question here not only denied his own suspicions but those of his wife as well.
Diabetes is the leading cause of ESRD and dialysis, sadly in many cases by simply not heeding or seeking appropriate medical attention proven to reduce and in many cases prevent these dreaded complications. This is one example where the cure is not as bad as the disease. If you suspect that you or a loved one has the symptoms of diabetes, seeking medical treatment can prevent many of the long term complications. Ignoring these symptoms is simply dangerous.