What is type 2 diabetes?
A person with Type 2 diabetes has adequate insulin, but the cells have become resistant to it.With type 2 diabetes, the muscles and liver that normally take up blood sugar and use it for energy begin to lose their sensitivity to the hormone insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance.
The pancreas, which contains the insulin-making beta cells, responds to the body’s insulin resistance by churning out even more of the hormone. Even though insulin levels may increase to a degree, even the increased amount is not sufficient to prevent blood sugar from becoming too high. (In contrast, type 1 diabetes is a less-common autoimmune disease that destroys the insulin-producing cells, although some people don’t fit neatly into either category.)
Food is broken down into glucose during digestion. The glucose is released into the blood and the digestion process activates the pancreas to release insulin, which helps the glucose enter the cells of the body where it’s used for energy. When someone is resistant to the effects of insulin, the glucose keeps circulating in the blood and doesn’t reach the body’s cells. This causes the body to try to get rid of the glucose in other ways.
The excess blood sugar in diabetes can wreak havoc on blood vessels all over the body and cause complications. It can severely damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts;
cause sexual problems; and double the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Eventually, insulin-producing cells can shut down and stop producing the hormone completely. Some people with type 2 diabetes need insulin, but most don’t. (It’s type 1 diabetes that requires insulin shots to survive; about one-third of people with type 2 use insulin.) You may need to inject insulin to help replace or supplement your own natural production of the hormone and to help your body overcome insulin resistance.
Type 2 usually occurs in adults over 35 years old, but can affect anyone, including children. Institutes of Health state that 95 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 2. Why? It’s a lifestyle disease, triggered by obesity, a lack of exercise, increased age and to some degree, genetic predisposition.
What are the symptoms and signs of type 2 diabetes?
Increased urination, excessive thirst
If you need to urinate frequently—particularly if you often have to get up at night to use the bathroom—it could be a symptom of diabetes.
The kidneys kick into high gear to get rid of all that extra glucose in the blood, hence the urge to relieve yourself, sometimes several times during the night.
The excessive thirst means your body is trying to replenish those lost fluids.
These two symptoms go hand in hand and are some of your body’s ways of trying to manage high blood sugar.
Overly high blood sugar levels can also cause rapid weight loss, say 10 to 20 pounds over two or three months—but this is not a healthy weight loss.
Because the insulin hormone isn’t getting glucose into the cells, where it can be used as energy, the body thinks it’s starving and starts breaking down protein from the muscles as an alternate source of fuel.
The kidneys are also working overtime to eliminate the excess sugar, and this leads to a loss of calories (and can harm the kidneys). These are processes that require a lot of energy.
Excessive pangs of hunger, another sign of diabetes, can come from sharp peaks and lows in blood sugar levels.
When blood sugar levels plummet, the body thinks it hasn’t been fed and craves more of the glucose that cells need to function.
Itchy skin, perhaps the result of dry skin or poor circulation, can often be a warning sign of diabetes.
A darkening of the skin around the neck or armpit area. “People who have this already have an insulin resistance process occurring even though their blood sugar might not be high.
Infections, cuts, and bruises that don’t heal quickly are another classic sign of diabetes.
This usually happens because the blood vessels are being damaged by the excessive amounts of glucose traveling the veins and arteries.
This makes it hard for blood—needed to facilitate healing—to reach different areas of the body.
Diabetes is considered an immunosuppressed state.
That means heightened susceptibility to a variety of infections, although the most common are yeast (candida) and other fungal infections.Fungi and bacteria both thrive in sugar-rich environments.
Fatigue and irritability
When people have high blood sugar levels, depending on how long it’s been, they can get used to chronically not feeling well.
Getting up to go to the bathroom several times during the night will make anyone tired, as will the extra effort your body is expending to compensate for its glucose deficiency.
Having distorted vision and seeing floaters or occasional flashes of light are a direct result of high blood sugar levels.
Blurry vision is a refraction problem. When the glucose in the blood is high, it changes the shape of the lens and the eye.
The good news is that this symptom is reversible once blood sugar levels are returned to normal or near normal. But let your blood sugar go unchecked for long periods and the glucose will cause permanent damage, possibly even blindness. And that’s not reversible.
Tingling or numbness
Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, along with burning pain or swelling, are signs that nerves are being damaged by diabetes.
If (the symptoms are) recent, it’s more likely to be reversible.
Still, as with vision, if blood sugar levels are allowed to run rampant for too long, neuropathy (nerve damage) will be permanent. That’s why it is so important to control blood sugar as quickly as possible.
Several tests are used to check for diabetes, but a single test result is never enough on its own to diagnose diabetes (the test has to be repeated).
One is the fasting plasma glucose test, which checks your blood sugar after a night (or eight hours) of not eating.
Blood glucose above 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) on two occasions means you have diabetes.
The normal cutoff is 99 mg/dL while a blood sugar level of 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes.
What causes Type 2 Diabetes ?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level, or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced – known as insulin resistance.
The pancreas (a large gland behind the stomach) produces the hormone insulin, which moves glucose from your blood into your cells, where it’s converted into energy.
In type 2 diabetes, there are several reasons why the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin.
Four of the main reasons for developing type 2 diabetes are:
age – being over the age of 40 (over 25 for south Asian people)
genetics – having a close relative with the condition (parent, brother or sister)
weight – being overweight or obese
ethnicity – being of south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African origin (even if you were born in a European country)
What are the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?
Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:
Family history of diabetes
High blood pressure
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
History of gestational diabetes
Poor nutrition during pregnancy
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a category of higher than normal blood glucose, but below the threshold for diagnosing diabetes.
Changes in diet and physical activity in recent times have led to sharp increases in the numbers of people developing diabetes.
Pregnant women who are overweight, have been diagnosed with IGT, or have a family history of diabetes are all at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). In addition, having been previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes or being of certain ethnic groups puts women at increased risk of developing GDM.
Misconceptions about Type 2 diabetes
Myth: Type 2 diabetes is not that serious
Fact: Not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs insulin, so it may not seem that serious. In reality it’s a silent killer, because those with type 2 don’t have many symptoms. In actuality, type 2 is more complex than type 1,type 2 diabetes is a manifestation of an underlying disease process called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. This causes high blood pressure, heart disease, and contributes to the growth of cancer and gout.
How is Type 2 Diabetes treated?
There’s no cure for diabetes, so treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible and to control your symptoms, to prevent health problems developing later in life.
Management of type 2 Diabetes includes:
Possibly, diabetes medication or insulin therapy
Blood sugar monitoring
These steps will help keep your blood sugar level closer to normal, which can delay or prevent complications.
Serious Problems in Type 2 Diabetes
Because so many factors can affect your blood sugar, problems sometimes arise that require immediate care, such as:
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. Check your blood sugar level often, and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar — frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you’ll need to adjust your meal plan, medications or both.
Type 2 Diabetes Management
Careful management of type 2 diabetes can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.
Commit to managing your Diabetes
Learn all you can about type 2 diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.
Wear a tag or bracelet that says you have diabetes.
Schedule a yearly physical exam and regular eye exams
Your regular diabetes checkups aren’t meant to replace regular physicals or routine eye exams. During the physical, your doctor will look for any diabetes-related complications, as well as screen for other medical problems. Your eye care specialist will check for signs of retinal damage, cataracts and glaucoma.
Keep your immunizations up to date
High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well.
Take care of your teeth
Diabetes may leave you prone to more-serious gum infections. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss your teeth once a day, and schedule regular dental exams. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen.
Pay attention to your Feet
Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Dry them gently, especially between the toes, and moisturize with lotion. Check your feet every day for blisters, cuts, sores, redness and swelling. Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that isn’t healing.
Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Medication may be needed, too.
If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit
Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking or to stop using other types of tobacco.
If you drink alcohol, do so Responsibly
Alcohol, as well as drink mixers, can cause either high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and if you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and always with a meal.The recommendation is no more than one drink daily for women, no more than two drinks daily for men age 65 and younger, and one drink a day for men over 65. If you’re on insulin or other medications that lower your blood sugar, check your blood sugar before you go to sleep to make sure you’re at a safe level.
Prevention Of Type 2 Diabetes
Healthy lifestyle choices can help you prevent type 2 diabetes. Even if you have diabetes in your family, diet and exercise can help you prevent the disease. If you’ve already received a diagnosis of diabetes, you can use healthy lifestyle choices to help prevent complications. And if you have prediabetes, lifestyle changes can slow or halt the progression from prediabetes to diabetes.
Eat healthy foods
Choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Lose excess Pounds
If you’re overweight, losing 7 percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.
For more great Health and Nutrition Tips refer to the website positivehealthwellness.com.
Sometimes medication is an option as well. Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others), an oral diabetes medication, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes — but healthy lifestyle choices remain essential.
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