Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms

Metabolic syndrome symptoms are difficult to pinpoint. That’s because they can be very vague and confusing. But before I start discussing them, let’s sort out a couple of terms so we’re not confused.  Those terms are… “signs and symptoms”.  Let’s take a moment to point out the difference between the two.

When you feel unwell, you’re experiencing a symptom. Let’s say you feel lightheaded maybe a little dizzy. This is a symptom. You can’t see symptoms, but you can feel them.  So, you tell your doctor about the dizziness, and she takes a blood pressure reading. Turns out you have high blood pressure! That’s a sign. You and the doctor can see it on the blood pressure monitor.

A toothache is a symptom. A cavity is a sign - your tooth is rotting.

OK, now that the lesson is over…

Let’s Take It from the Top

First, metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a collection of health issues that raise the risk of developing serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The criteria to determine metabolic syndrome include a large waistline as well as three or more signs such as, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.  These can be measured and are signs of metabolic syndrome.    I have an entire article written about what metabolic syndrome is. You can read it here.

Big Belly, No Laughing Matter

Big Belly

A big belly is one of the signs of MetS.  If you have a big belly, you could experience shortness of breath when you exert yourself.  An example is taking a flight of stairs which may leave you gasping for air. That’s because a bulging tummy presses up against the diaphragm leaving you short of breath. That breathless feeling is a symptom.

You may also get a backache because a bulging stomach puts a lot of strain on your back muscles and ligaments. Your posture is affected leaving you with nagging aches and pains. Those aches are symptoms which you could experience.

But you could get a backache for other reasons too. So, aches and pains are not good indicators of metabolic syndrome.

High Triglycerides and Low HDL

There are no symptoms associated with high triglycerides. Unless the triglycerides are very high in which case you could feel pain from inflammation occurring in the pancreas. Generally speaking, there are no outward symptoms.

Same goes for having low level HDL cholesterol. You won’t feel any symptoms at all.

What About High Blood Pressure?

There are no symptoms whatsoever for consistently high blood pressure. That’s why it’s known as “the silent killer”. You can’t feel hypertension.

However, if your blood pressure becomes VERY high you could feel dizzy, have difficulty breathing, feel sick to your stomach, and maybe even throw up. You could experience bad headaches, vision changes, feel confused, your heart rate may feel abnormal, and even get buzzing in your ears.  These would be symptoms of your extraordinarily high blood pressure but not necessarily metabolic syndrome symptoms.

Too Sweet

What happens when your fasting blood glucose is too high? If you continually have high blood sugar you could experience symptoms such as excessive thirst, feeling tired and lethargic, or maybe even having the need to pee more often.

As you can see, metabolic syndrome symptoms don't tell the story because they're so vague. If you just look for symptoms you don't have accurate clues. The only way to know for sure is to look at the signs which your doctor will discuss with you.

Aging and Self-Care

If you haven’t taken good care of your metabolic health in your youth, then as you get older, you’re more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. Remember, it’s a cluster of criteria that define the syndrome.

If you continue to eat poorly and stay glued to the TV rather than exercise, you have a pretty high likelihood of developing many of the signs we discussed previously.

You must remember, we’re not genetically pre-programmed to have these illnesses. Even if your mom and dad were obese for instance or they had hypertension, it doesn’t mean it’s your fate. You can make changes to your diet and lifestyle and avoid all of it.

You can go a long way to reverse any of these conditions starting today. And the way to avoid getting any of these health issues is to practice self-care and commit to lifestyle changes. I know, I sound like a broken record!

What Can I Do About Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms?

First and foremost, see your doctor regularly to have bloodwork drawn so you know where you stand. If the symptoms you’ve felt and the signs from your bloodwork indicate metabolic syndrome, then discuss your concerns with your doctor. Be aware that most doctors will be quick to prescribe medications to address issues like high blood pressure.  If you’re unwilling or unable to make the lifestyle changes you need for better health, then it’s quite reasonable to take the medications as prescribed. Your doctor does have your best interest at heart. He or she is on your team!

Ideally, you will choose to make positive improvements to your way of eating and living. With sincere effort you can transition off the medication with your doctor’s assistance. Wouldn’t it be wonderful not to have to take any prescription meds?

My recommendation to you is to make the necessary changes as soon as you can. Cut out junk food, highly processed foods, sugar and vegetable oil. These contribute to each of the signs that make up metabolic syndrome. 

You’re going to have to quit the cigarettes and you’ll have to cut way back on alcohol too. And like it or not, you’re going to have to move more. You don’t need to live at the gym. It’s simpler than that.  Go for walks, lift some dumbbells, do some push-ups and squats. Work in your garden more.  Do things you enjoy that require you to move more than you do now. It’s not rocket science and it’s not like you haven’t heard any of this before.

By making these changes your waistline gets smaller, your blood pressure drops, your blood glucose becomes more stable, your triglycerides and your HDL improve too. You make your doctor very happy!

Here’s an undeniable fact… Your wellbeing is in your own hands. For overall improvements to your metabolic health, I strongly recommend a therapeutic carbohydrate restriction approach. That’s fancy talk to say eat a low carb diet. It’s simple and it’s do-able. Learn more about a low carb way of eating here.

If you’ve tried everything and you’re still having metabolic syndrome symptoms and signs, then you may need medical intervention. Absolutely work with your doctor and do what you must to get better.

Just so you know, I was able to come off blood pressure medications and statin medications because of changes in my diet. And believe me, if I can do it, so can you!!!

I'm Here To Help

If you’re unsure how to start a low carb diet or you need help maintaining a low carb lifestyle there are coaches like me available to help you. 

Some folks find that their good attempts and progress are sabotaged by irresistible urges and cravings to eat unhealthy foods.  It happens… a lot.  If this is you, beware that there may be more sinister forces at work.  Consider an assessment to determine your relationship with food.  You could have a sugar/food addiction.  You can learn more here. 

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