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Diabetic Breath: The Telltale Sign You May Be Overlooking

One of the lesser-known symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes is a distinct scent coming from one's breath. Oftentimes described as smelling fruity or sweet, diabetic breath as it's known, is the body's way of alerting those affected that their blood sugar levels are dangerously high. With diabetes becoming increasingly common, it's important for both patients and the general public to be aware of this telling indicator.

According to experts, the odd odor stems from a process called ketosis. When insulin is deficient or blood sugar levels surge too fast, the body turns to fat for energy instead of glucose. This breakdown produces molecules called ketones that are excreted in exhaled air, resulting in the curious fragrance. The stronger the scent, the more severe the hyperglycemia.

While unusual, having high ketones in one's system poses serious risks if left unchecked. It can be an early sign of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication where ketone levels rise rapidly due to a lack of insulin. DKA needs urgent medical treatment to prevent complications like diabetic coma. Thus, diabetic breath shouldn't be ignored, as seeking help promptly could make all the difference.

Several factors contribute to the onset of bad breath in diabetics. For one, reduced saliva due to dry mouth lowers protection against oral bacteria overgrowth. Additionally, surplus glucose in saliva encourages more plaque formation. Both issues can lead to dental issues and lingering halitosis if neglected. Diabetics are also prone to gum disease, which is linked to impaired blood sugar control.

There are some misconceptions around “diabetes breath” that need clarification. Contrary to belief, it does not solely impact type 1 diabetes or take a long time to manifest. Anyone with poorly managed type 1 or 2 diabetes is at risk. Symptoms can evolve rapidly too – within hours – requiring close self-monitoring. With awareness and diligent care, this potentially life-alerting symptom need not escalate to dire consequences.

Individuals with diabetes must stay hydrated, follow prescribed insulin plans, and seek prompt care for infections to stave off dangerous ketone buildup. Those afflicted are also wise to practice thorough oral hygiene, keep dental checkups, and watch for any changes in breath quality. By catching warning signs early and keeping blood sugar in a healthy range, diabetes patients can better safeguard their overall wellbeing.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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