Diabetes can sneak up on you.
That’s what reportedly happened to Rob Kardashian, the 28-year-old reality TV personality, this week. According to TMZ, he was rushed to an L.A. hospital and diagnosed with the condition.
Rob had put on weight recently, but he no idea he had diabetes. And he’s not alone: 25 percent of people with diabetes don’t know they’re afflicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Paying attention to prediabetes warning signs could save you from an ER visit like Kardashian’s—and prevent you from ever developing full-blown diabetes. Here are the top silent alarms.
1. You know what the bathroom looks like at night.
Because you visit often. As blood sugar levels go up, diabetes symptoms like frequent urination worsen.
“If 4 months ago you were getting up once in the middle of the night to pee and now you’re getting up three times, that’s a clue you need to get checked out,” says Andrew Bremer, M.D., Ph.D., program director at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
This may also be a symptom of prostate issues (such as an enlarged prostate). Either way, it’s best to bring the issue up with your doctor so he can rule out potential causes.
2. Your skin looks dirty.
You notice dark patches of skin on the back of your neck, but no matter how hard you rub, they won’t come off.
How come? Insulin resistance can cause a condition called acanthosis nigricans, which may appear during pre-diabetes.
The dark, velvety patches can ring your neck and also appear on your elbows and knees. Once you get your glucose under control, the patches will likely fade away.
3. You’re having trouble reading.
Having high blood sugar levels in the long term damages the tiny blood vessels in your retina, blurring your vision in one or both eyes. The medical term is diabetic retinopathy.
While a decade ago doctors thought only those with type 2 diabetes could develop the condition, they now know it can happen sooner.
In fact, nearly 8 percent of pre-diabetic people have diabetic retinopathy. Along with keeping your blood sugar under control to prevent progression of the disease, see an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once a year for a dilated eye exam, suggests the American Diabetes Association.
4. Your pants are getting loose.
Normally it would be pretty awesome to shed a few pounds and still enjoy a diet of pizza and beer, but unexplained weight loss can signal diabetes.
“I’d be concerned if you’re eating more and losing weight,” says Dr. Bremer.
It’s a sign that your body isn’t utilizing calories effectively and you’re simply peeing out those nutrients.
5. Your blood pressure is creeping up.
The last time you had your BP checked, it was 140/90mmHG or above. That’s considered high blood pressure, and it puts you at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Left unchecked, the dynamic duo can damage your kidneys over time.
Save your life with these
DON’T GET DIABETES
These symptoms alone won’t diagnose you with pre-diabetes. The only way to know is to go to your doctor and have your blood glucose levels measured, says Dr. Bremer.
If your doc delivers the bad news, do something about it. If you don’t? Well, 15 to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes develop the real thing within 5 years, according to the CDC.
Your first step: Lose weight via lifestyle changes like improving your diet and ramping up your activity levels. Pre-diabetics who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight over 6 months reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 85 percent, shows a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.