Type 1 diabetes symptoms: The change in your mouth that could be warning sign

Type 1 diabetes symptoms: The change in your mouth that could be warning sign

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Type 1 diabetes accounts for about eight percent of all diabetes diagnoses in the UK. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are largely physical and can affect everything from eyesight to toilet habits. Oral side effects are not uncommon for those living with type 1 diabetes, however, and there is one key sign in your mouth that could indicate this dangerous disease.

What are the main symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

Diabetes is a progressive illness that can cause symptoms to worsen over time.

Early symptoms can vary across individual cases, but there are a handful of key signs which are frequently experienced by type 1 diabetics.

According to the NHS, the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Thrush that keeps coming back
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts and grazes that are not healing

Fruity-smelling breath and/or a dry mouth are other well-known symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes, but what is it that causes this unusual side effect?

Why is dry mouth a sign of diabetes?

People with diabetes may experience a dry mouth as high blood sugar levels can result in a decrease in saliva flow.

It is important to get a dry mouth checked if it is a reoccurring issue, as it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Some medications used to treat diabetes can also result in a dry mouth as a side effect, however.

Why is fruity-smelling breath a symptom of diabetes?

When the body is unable to use insulin as an energy source, it breaks down fat cells instead.

Not only can this cause unintended weight loss, but it is also responsible for the fruit-scented breath commonly associated with type 1 diabetics.

When fat cells are used for energy, the process produces an acid known as ketones.

Ketones found in the bloodstream are usually discarded through urine, but they can make themselves known when this fails to take place.

Medically accredited website Healthline says: “When the body starts breaking down fat for energy, the effect is fruity-smelling breath or breath that smells like acetone, or nail polish.”

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Officially known as halitosis, a foul, sweet or fruity odour on your breath could signal an acute complication of diabetes.
High levels of ketones in the blood are not the only cause of this unusual symptom.

Periodontal disease is another known trigger of fruity-breath in type 1 diabetics and is caused by reduced blood flow to the gums.

Raised glucose levels can also promote bacteria growth, infection and bad breath which could also be to blame for oddly-scented breath.

Any unexplained changes to the scent of your breath should always be raised with a medical professional to rule out the possibility of diabetes.

How to manage bad breath from diabetes

While type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented, there are a number of remedies to manage unpleasant symptoms triggered by this autoimmune disease.

Warding off the risk of diabetes-induced gum disease can be done with a few simple habits, including:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Flossing daily
  • Brushing your tongue
  • Drinking plenty of water to keep your mouth moist
  • Keeping blood sugar levels in their target range
  • Using sugar-free mints or gum to stimulate saliva
  • Keeping on top of dental checks and treatments
  • Taking good care of dentures and always removing them at night
  • Quitting or avoiding smoking

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