The Hidden Issues of Diabetes in Young Adults

Category: Healthy Living


Posted on July 19, 2018

Vanessa is a health writer and blogging expert. Her specialities are medicine, health and wellness. She is proud to call Vancouver, BC her home where she enjoys the ocean and mountains with her dog Mr. ChowChow.

hidden issues with diabetes

Diabetes in young adults is a specific group that is regularly overlooked by pediatric and adult medicine. The timeframe of young adulthood regularly seems to be left outside main discussions and studies, all while the transition from adolescence to adulthood has unique issues associated with diabetes. The hidden issues are typically how to stay dedicated to caring for diabetes under the added stress and change of young adulthood.

In mainstream discussion, the hidden issues of diabetes in young adults often revolve around physical appearance, mood and personality changes, and changes to both appetite and thirst. In any case, most studies agree there is a dire need for new treatment patterns that address the unique and sometimes difficult time in life for those living with diabetes.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the main symptoms of diabetes and their hidden issues associated with young adulthood.  


Young adults can be easily distracted - and to no fault of their own. During the formative years of life, there are a huge array of new things to deal with that sometimes can impede one’s ability to care for themselves to the best of their ability.

diabetes distraction

Recent studies suggest that an incredible 25% of young people with Type 2 diabetes have no idea they even have the disease. In young adults, this can manifest as the major transition from childhood to adulthood takes shape.

When children graduate from their parents homes and enter the stage of their lives wherein they go off to school, begin feeding and caring for themselves, working, etc - all while addressing many of the stresses of everyday adult life, their health and wellbeing can often fall to the wayside. Developmental focus moves from health, to maintaining and making new relationships, working, and new lifestyle behaviours - including eating well and freely indulging in sugary processed food and alcohol.

The American Diabetes Association cites a second stage in young adulthood, when life-long routines of self-care are set, providing a window of opportunity to both teach and cement proper diabetes knowledge, lifestyle traits, and actions in young people. In order to combat distraction in life, a proper regimen of self-care is required to optimize the wellbeing of young people living with diabetes.

Does Diabetes Cause Weight Gain?

does diabetes cause weight gain

One of the most well known risk factors for developing diabetes is being overweight. It’s also a primary focus of many young people to maintain a healthy and aesthetically appealing physique during young adulthood - especially as young people develop new relationships and interests.

This inevitably causes one of two diet-based results; one, a weight gain for those who use insulin. A common side effect for those who use insulin is the absorption of sugar by the body’s cells, contributing to some weight gain. At the same time, maintaining a healthy weight and diet is also part of a good diabetes management plan, making the effects of maintaining balanced blood sugar and a healthy body weight a counter-productive conundrum. But, this slight weight gain is healthy because it promotes a more balanced blood sugar level.

One of the hidden issues of diabetes in young adults can also be weight loss - thanks in part to increased urination, and a loss of calories from the sugar in the bloodstream. It’s this delicate balance and control of blood sugar that can contribute to healthy management of diabetes.

Increased Hunger Due to Diabetes

A boost to appetite is a major player in hidden issues of diabetes in young adults as well, further complicating the issue of self-image, self-worth, and a balanced, sustainable diet.

High blood sugar levels have trouble regulating glucose, and this imbalance often sees young adults reach for carbohydrates to satisfy a boost to hunger as a result. However, carbs help the body to produce more insulin, dropping glucose levels fast - which can lead to a craving for sugary foods. This cycle is a roller coaster that can further exaggerate insulin causing weight gain.

The hidden issue with an increased craving for sugary carbohydrates is realizing that replacing those foods with proteins and nutrition is the answer that will fend off obesity and weight gain as a result of insulin production. It can be tough, but hugely rewarding for young adults adjusting to life with diabetes and all its hiccups.

healthy diet for diabetics

Diabetics are best to adopt a diet that consists of oats, cinnamon, olive oils, grapes, eggs, beans, dairy, kale, fish, quinoa, apples, and nuts - amongst other things. This type of diet supports a boost to naturally occurring amino acids, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, phytonutrients, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins.

Diabetes Can Cause Increased Fatigue

Being a young adult who’s always on the move has its perks - there’s a routine sense of exhilaration, hustle and bustle, and that you’re contributing to the world in new ways never experienced before - but the presence of diabetes in young people can drastically offset this boost by increasing the level of fatigue felt by many diabetics.

Some studies show that up to 85% of people with diabetes report fatigue or excessive tiredness that interferes with the function of their everyday lives. Fatigue can be caused by:

  • High blood sugar that makes the blood thick and sluggish so it is unable to navigate the capillaries bringing oxygen to cells.
  • High insulin resistance that effectively keeps glucose from entering cells, draining their energy.
  • Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar

blood sugar levels

The hidden issue with chronic and/or consistent fatigue in young adults with diabetes is a potential complication in the foods they’re eating. Ongoing fatigue means the body isn’t getting the right type of nutrient rich food it needs to be broken down properly by cells. Further, Type 2 diabetics can experience this fatigue in different ways than their Type 1 peers, in that blood sugar levels can remain elevated for longer durations of time after eating, so fatigue comes on slowly, perhaps when it’s less anticipated.

Lastly, one of the most prevalent causes of fatigue in young adults with diabetes is the constant mental stress of coping with diabetes. The persistence of checking blood sugar levels, using insulin, and watching what you eat is mentally taxing and can generate some serious wear and tear if not dealt with properly. One of the easiest ways to combat this stress is adopting a process or routine that helps regiment how young adults deal with their diabetes.

Mood & Personality Changes

When blood sugar is set on a course of instability and various high’s and lows, it can impact the level of happiness in its host. Diabetes can severely impact the way young adults feel throughout the day thanks to wacky blood sugar levels and little knowledge of how to regulate it with proper diet and lifestyle choices.

Some diabetics actually report anxiety, and depression-like symptoms to their doctors, citing compounding issues of excessive fatigue, increased levels of mental stress, and rapidly changing moods.

Sad and irritable behaviour can be especially present during hypoglycemic episodes where blood sugar dips to below 70mg/dL, and can have big impacts on an individual's ability to make decisions, can pique anxiousness and nervousness, confusion, and low energy. In fact, noticing a sudden drastic change to a person’s mood or personality may be the first sign of an imbalance in blood sugar levels.

The hidden issues of diabetes in young adults are complex and intricate problems that all begin with adjusting to the lifestyle and seemingly insurmountable roadblocks of the disease. Mental state, diet, routine, dedication, and patience are all formidable weapons in addressing these hidden issues that can help dealing - and thriving - with diabetes as a young adult a more optimistic and tolerable ordeal.

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