Can you get diabetes from eating too much sugar
November 8, 2010 4:13 AM   Subscribe

Am I suffering the effects of Diabetes from eating too much sugar?

I eat alot of sugar due to an extensive exercise regime up to 3hrs+ a day.

Its always worried me a little and recently i've started to noticed strange symptoms.

I often feel tired - worse on my days off training
Polyuria (especially at nighttime causing me a lack of sleep)
Decreasing vision
Unsatisfiable hunger pangs for sugar.

The Poloyuria is the main concern as I am a youngman and I don't drink caffeine or alcohol.
posted by complience to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
People who train extensively every day usually eat quantities of food that would make the rest of us goodly-eyed in horror (Michael Phelps being a prominent recent example), but it's usually in the form of tons of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates, not just sugar. Can you be more specific about your diet? How many calories a day? What's the macronutrient ratio?

Regardless, I think it's imperative that you see a doctor and have a complete physical and bloodwork. What you describe is unusual.
posted by Gandhi Knoxville at 4:25 AM on November 8, 2010

GOOGLY-eyed, thanks autocorrect.
posted by Gandhi Knoxville at 4:26 AM on November 8, 2010

Best answer: The most straightforward thing is probably if you just go to a pharmacy and buy a blood glucose meter. The cheapest ones cost around $20 and come with ten or twenty test strips. They're quite simple to use.

Have a little scientific experiment with it - test your sugar in the morning, one hour after a meal, two hours after a meal, after eating candy, etc. and see if you detect a pattern of unusually high glucose levels. Keep a log of it all so you can show that do a doctor later on.

And that's all if you don't want to bother going to the doctor, which would be even easier. The doctor would set you up for some blood tests that you can'd do on your own and once it's confirmed she would prescribe some meds for you and sign you up for diabetic education classes.

This is important to take care of as soon as possible but it's nothing to sweat over - if you ignore it or handle it wrong you can end up with amputated limbs and all other sorts of hell, but if you catch it early and deal with it in a disciplined manner (which I'd imagine you're entirely capable of if you're exercising more than 3 hours a day) it's no big deal.

I must recommend the book The Diabetes Sourcebook, which you can read some portions for free on Google Books.
posted by XMLicious at 4:28 AM on November 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

one correction - "test your sugar in the morning before you have eaten"
posted by XMLicious at 4:30 AM on November 8, 2010

Only a doctor can tell you if you have diabetes. You should see one.

Then again, maybe you're just drinking a lot of water as you exercise? Since your exercise regime is heavy, you might consider replacing some of it with an electrolyte drink. This will help your body retain and use more of the water you drink, instead of peeing it straight out.
posted by embrangled at 4:43 AM on November 8, 2010

I'm not sure where you're located, but many CVS Pharmacies in the US are offering free A1C tests through their in-store clinics. The A1C is essentially your average glucose reading over a few months' period of time, so would be a more accurate indication of whether you're diabetic than testing your glucose levels at different points during the day.
posted by DrGail at 4:52 AM on November 8, 2010

Decreasing vision

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this, but that would scare the hell out of me. Your vision is nothing to fuck with. Just go to a doctor.

Also, diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar, though obviously if you have diabetes and you're not eating a correct diet it can worsen the condition.

You do have some symptoms, like the frequent urination. Just go to a doctor. Left untreated, diabetes can do some serious damage.
posted by unannihilated at 4:53 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Decreasing vision

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this, but that would scare the hell out of me. Your vision is nothing to fuck with. Just go to a doctor.

Seriously. My opthamologist told me that diabetic eye disease is quite treatable in the early stages, but that he sees far too many people who wait until their vision is starting to get really bad before coming in and at that point there is not much he can do.

He also stated that if your eyes are being affected by diabetes, your kidneys probably are too.

Go see a doctor, get the blood test and find out what is going on. At the very least pick up a glucose meter like XMLiscious suggests, although I'd only suggest going that route if money is a huge issue... otherwise just get to the doctor.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:12 AM on November 8, 2010

Lots of sugar in the diet could result in hyperglycemia.

Insulin causes glucose to leave the blood stream and enter into the cells of the body. Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 (which 90-95% of all Diabetics have) is caused by your body becoming desensitized to the effects of insulin, causing more glucose to be in the blood than is healthy.

If you have lots of sugar in your diet, you could be causing self-induced hyperglycemia without being diabetic.

The glucose monitor is a good idea. Normal values for blood glucose after fasting for 12 hours (only water or black coffee) is 80-110. Regardless of your results, go see a doctor.
posted by Apoch at 5:29 AM on November 8, 2010

I eat alot of sugar due to an extensive exercise regime up to 3hrs+ a day.

By sugar do you mean you're drinking lots of sugar-laden energy drinks? Depending on the type of training you're doing, you're burning a lot of this while exercising. If you're endurance training (and that's the only reason I can imagine you're taking in so much sugar) you're likely burning that during your workouts. If you're not endurance training - you really don't need excessive amounts of sugar.

If you're training - it's likely that you have greatly increased your water consumption (and that's why you're urinating so often). Also, if you're training that hard, your appetite is going to increase (and that's why you're always hungry).

IANAD but these "symptoms" don't necessarily scream DIABETES given the context. That said, go see a doctor.
posted by Siena at 6:03 AM on November 8, 2010

With that much exercise are you monitoring salt intake?

A lot of your conditions can be related to low salt.

For example low salt means when you attempt to hydrate you pee it out.

Causing dehydration, which affects peripheral vision.

Dehydration will also fatigue you.

Overall though see a Dr as could be a multitude of thibgs
posted by moochoo at 6:10 AM on November 8, 2010

Here's what your blood glucose level ought to look like across a normal day. If you're really doing three hours of solid exercise a day, you're going to be drinking a lot so I'm not sure the polyuria thing isn't to be expected to some extent.

Decreasing vision would alarm me, depending on what, exactly, you need. The vision issue with diabetes are a slow onset, long term issue (much like periphery circulation issues). You don't give you age, so it's hard to say if you're eligible to join the "OMG - I need reading glasses! I'm getting old!" club or not but I'd go get that checked out in short order.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:35 AM on November 8, 2010

I recently saw my doctor about suspected hypoglycemia... I'd eat breakfast and then 3 hours later be shaking and weak like I hadn't eaten at all. He seemed surprised that I didn't have a relative or friend who could just do a quick fingerstick for me and test my sugar. So he did one and my sugar was fine, so he told me to just make sure I don't skip meals.

If you don't have a friend or relative with a glucose meter either, go buy one like XMLicious said. It's cheaper than having the doctor test for it - it cost me $15. (I don't have health insurance so I had to pay for the fingerstick out of pocket.)
posted by IndigoRain at 10:46 PM on November 8, 2010

Response by poster: Got a blood glucose monitor

The results so far...

After a light lunch 5.9 mmoi/l
Before going to bed 6.1 mmoi/l
On Waking up 6.1 mmoi/l

Does this mean I have diabetes?
posted by complience at 1:53 AM on November 10, 2010

No. Those are fairly normal numbers. As I'm in the US, I had to figure out how to convert, and I visited this page. But keep on checking for a bit-- it's unusual that you would have a higher fasting glucose than after lunch.

Fatigue, hunger, and urination can be perfectly healthy feelings. It would be useful to have more details to go on. How does the fatigue affect your life? When you say that your hunger is insatiable, does that mean that your hunger is always present? Are you gaining or losing weight? How often do you wake to urinate in the middle of the night, and how much do you urinate at a time?

Changes in vision are worrisome. It would be useful to know more about how your vision is deteriorating. I would be especially worried about this symptom if I were in your shoes-- there are plenty of reasons to mention it to a doctor.
posted by nathan v at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2010

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