Majority of new patients do not have any of the typical symptoms of diabetes like frequent urination, fatigue, excessive thirst or hunger, weight loss and blurry vision. Nutritionists and diabetologists say it could be linked to the change in food intake and limited or no exercise during the pandemic.
Take the case of 47-year-old Suhasini Kumar, who had a blackout at home for 45 seconds and her family insisted on a master health check-up the next day. “During the check-up, my blood sugar levels were higher. Since I don’t have a family history of diabetes, the doctors decided to go for a more fool-proof test which proved that I indeed have moderately high blood sugar,” Kumar who lives in Banjara hills said.
“It was a jolt for me as I never had the usual signs diabetes symptoms and had I not gone for tests, I would not have known that I am asymptomatic diabetic. Thankfully with change in food and lifestyle, I can reverse it, I am told,” she added.
Doctors say more and more people during the lockdown have developed higher blood sugar and are completely in the dark about it. Even overweight children as young as 12 years old are testing positive to asymptomatic diabetes and pre-diabetes.
“In the last one and a half year with restricted physical activity and same amount of calorie intake leading to drastic weight gain, we are seeing many people who come for regular check-ups and have a chance discovery of diabetes,” said K Sunitha Premalatha, chief dietician, Yashoda hospitals. She gave an example of chance discovery of pre-diabetes in a 23-year-old who came with leg swelling on Thursday. The boy’s mother too was detected to be diabetic during the check-up.
“When we ask for typical symptoms, they don’t have any but the common thing is restricted physical activity. Weight gain of 6-8 kg in a span of one year is seen in these patients,” she added. While a lot of importance is laid on weight gain, increase in waist size for keeping a check on diabetes, the awareness about pre-diabetes is also equally important, say doctors. Higher levels of stress during the pandemic have also played their role, believe doctors.
“The number one reason for diabetes is stress. Diabetes can be stress-induced, drug-induced or even Covid-induced. Whenever high levels of stress remain unaddressed in time, it brings out hidden diabetes and hypertension,” said Dr Ashish Chauhan, senior consultant diabetologist at Apollo Hospitals, who has seen 100 new cases since the pandemic. “Many patients also have vague symptoms like depression, irritation, drowsiness, insomnia and sexual dysfunction but they don’t know that it can be a symptom due to less awareness,” he added.