A symptom of diabetes could be mistaken for a sexually transmitted disease, health experts have warned.
The sign doctors are warning of is itchy genitals or frequent episodes of thrush. According to Diabetes UK, around 4.3 million people across the country are living with diabetes. The charity also estimates an additional 850,000 people could be living with diabetes who are yet to be diagnosed.
There are two main types of the condition – type 1 and type 2. The former is a lifelong condition where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, while type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin properly.
According to the NHS, around 90% of people in the UK who have diabetes have type 2. Symptoms of diabetes shouldn’t be ignored, but there is one symptom which people could mistake for a sexually transmitted disease (STD), reports Liverpool Echo. Thrush can present itself in women as white vaginal discharge, which does not usually smell. It can also cause itching, irritation, soreness and stinging during sex or when you urinate.
For men, thrush symptoms can be irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin. As well as white discharge, an unpleasant smell and difficulty pulling back the foreskin.
Diabetes.co.uk claims genital itching can be a sign of diabetes because of the increased blood glucose levels in those with the condition. The high blood sugar creates ideal conditions for yeast to grow, raising the chances of getting a yeast infection in your genital area.
The site says: “Diabetes can also cause a higher glucose content in the urine – another extremely suitable place for yeast to thrive.” The NHS recommends seeing a doctor if you experience symptoms such as feeling very thirsty, peeing more frequently than usual, feeling very tired, weight loss and loss of muscle bulk, and blurred vision.
High blood sugar which develops during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. However it usually goes away after giving birth. You can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by healthy eating, doing regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight.
The NHS further adds that you may be more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you:
- are living with overweight or obesity
- do not have a healthy diet
- have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- are of Asian, Black African or African Caribbean origin
- take certain medicines such as steroids for a long time
- have high blood pressure
- have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy
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