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Symptoms of diabetes may not be what you expect

I have been subject to chronic respiratory problems since childhood. Every winter I have at least one or two episodes of bronchitis. Years ago, my primary physician knew my pattern, and would prescribe antibiotics and cough medications with just a phone call. Lately, I've had to train new doctors.

My first symptoms of diabetes

Oddly enough, I did not exhibit many of the more common symptoms of diabetes prior to my diagnosis. However, an elevated glucose level in a blood test for my annual physical led to a glucose tolerance test and my entry into the world of diabetes. When I was diagnosed, I didn't realize that the disease can cause impaired lung function. In doing some research on the subject, I ran across a study that has been going on for the past 20 years. Clinical data is still being studied, but indications are that people with diabetes are more susceptible to respiratory infections that can lead to pneumonia. This is because hyperglycemia seems to increase inflammation while inhibiting the function of immune cells. So now I have at least a partial explanation of my hospitalization with pneumonia last October, and the chronic respiratory problems that have kept recurring since then.

Knowing now that my diabetes further compromises my pulmonary system, I have to be careful to avoid colds, flu, and any other triggers. I get my flu shot every year, and my pneumonia shot every five years. Interestingly enough, the doctor told me that the pneumonia shot doesn't keep you from getting pneumonia; it just prevents sepsis in the lungs and keeps you from dying. Good to know.

About Roger Diez

Roger Diez was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in September 2008. Roger is a professional freelance writer who has used his writing experience to discuss living with diabetes.

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