Diabetes can cause symptoms in virtually every part of the body, from head to toe — and researchers are still learning all the ways it can affect your health. As you become insulin resistant and sugar builds up in your bloodstream, you may be surprised at some of the subtle ways your body responds. In fact, a team of German researchers believe there is a connection between the color of your eyebrows as you age and your risk of diabetes. If you notice this, they say, you should ask your doctor for a fasting glucose test. Read on to find out which surprising symptom is raising the eyebrows of the medical community and which other diabetes symptoms should be on your radar.
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According to a 2006 study conducted in Germany, diabetes can affect eyebrow color as you age — specifically, it can delay aging. The research team gathered a group of 100 male subjects with gray hair – 50 of whom had gray eyebrows and another 50 who did not – and compared the rates of diabetes in both groups. Among men with unaltered brows, 76% had diabetes, while only 18% of the gray brow cohort had a blood sugar imbalance. “Diabetes can cause a delay or inhibition of aging in the hair follicles of the eyebrows,” Uwe Wollina, MD, Ph.D., lead author of the study, told Men’s Health at the time of the study’s launch.
While the exact cause of this theorized delay is unknown and more research is needed to confirm the study results, this is not the only way diabetes can affect your hair follicles. Researchers have also found that those with diabetes are also more likely to experience alopecia areata, which manifests itself in patches of hair loss.
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While eyebrow color can be linked to diabetes, there are some symptoms that are considered to be much more common and therefore more likely to lead to a diagnosis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these symptoms can include a frequent need to urinate, abnormal thirst or hunger, unintentional weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, skin changes, slow-healing wounds on legs or feet and frequently recurring infections such as fungal infections. Talk to your doctor if you notice these or any other signs of blood sugar imbalance.
Knowing if you are at high risk can also help you identify a problem earlier. As the Mayo Clinic explains, you may be at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, inactive, or have a family history of diabetes. Your risk also increases with age, and you’re more likely to develop diabetes if you’re black, Asian American, Hispanic, or Native American, says the Clinic.
Having a personal history of certain conditions can also increase your chances of developing a blood sugar imbalance. These include having developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), having high blood pressure, and having abnormal levels of cholesterol or triglycerides.
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If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s essential to manage your blood sugar levels, keeping them within the target range. According to the CDC, this is the best way to “prevent or delay serious, long-term health problems.” [associated with diabetes]such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease”.
To do this, the health authority suggests tracking your blood sugar levels and looking at what makes them rise or fall. Eating controlled portions of healthy meals at regular times of the day and choosing foods with fewer calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt can help you maintain a healthy weight and stabilize your glucose levels. Get regular exercise, limit your alcohol intake, and replace juice and soda with water, advises the CDC.
And, if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes but suspect you may have symptoms, speak to your doctor right away. A simple blood test can help you reach a diagnosis and take care of your health.
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