The Importance of
HAVE you experienced any of the signs of diabetes discussed in the preceding chapter? If you haven't, you may feel much less worried about the immediate danger of diabetes. If you have, perhaps the symptom did not seem alarming enough to push you to the next step—seeing your doctor for a diabetes screening. Unfortunately, you can't rely on symptoms alone to alert you to potential problems.
Diabetes is not always obvious. In Type I, signs usually do not appear until approximately 90 percent of the beta cells have already been destroyed. In Type II, symptoms may never be noticeable. Meanwhile, the disease is insidiously interfering with the major systems of the body.
Some of the consequences of undiscovered or untreated diabetes were touched on in Chapter 3. Most are related to how the disease chemically affects the blood vessels—from the tiny capillaries in the eyes and kidneys to the main arteries leading to the heart, brain, and legs. The blood they carry nourishes and brings oxygen to all tissues. But diabetes can restrict this blood flow by thickening or weakening vessel walls. The following conditions can result: