Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments
Type 2 diabetes prevents your body your body from turning carbohydrates into energy. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Over time this will increase your risk for heart disease, blindness, nerve, and organ damage. It strikes people of all ages, and early symptoms are mild. About 1 out of 3 people with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it.
In fact, type 2 diabetes cases outnumber type 1 diabetes by a margin of 9:1.
Type 2 diabetes: Symptoms
Symptoms include dry mouth, bigger appetite, frequent urination, and unusual weight loss or gain. Moreover, as your blood sugar levels increase, additional problems such as headaches, blurred vision, and fatigue will occur.
Type 2 diabetes: Serious Symptoms
In many cases, this disease isn’t discovered until it takes a serious toll on your health. Some red flags include:
- Cuts or sores that are slow to heal
- Frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infections
- Itchy skin, especially in the groin area
Type 2 diabetes: Controllable Risk Factors
Some health habits and medical conditions related to your lifestyle can raise your odds, including:
- Being overweight, especially at the waist
- A couch potato lifestyle
- Eating a lot of red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and sweets
- Unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Risk Factors You Can’t Control
Risk factors are out of your control, including:
- Race or ethnicity: Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians are more likely to get it
- Family history of diabetes: Having a parent or sibling with diabetes boosts your odds.
- Age: Being 45 and older raises your risk for type 2.
Risk Factors for Women
You’re more likely to get type 2 diabetes later on if you:
- Had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant
- Delivered a baby that weighed over 9 pounds
- Had polycystic ovary syndrome
Type 2 diabetes: Insulin Mechanism
In a healthy person, insulin helps turn food into energy. Your stomach breaks down carbohydrates into sugars. They enter the bloodstream, prompting your pancreas to release the hormone insulin in just the right amount. It helps your cells use the sugar for fuel.
In type 2 diabetes, however, your cells can’t use sugar properly. That means there’s a lot of it in your blood. If you have a condition called insulin resistance, your body makes the hormone, but your cells don’t use it or respond to it like they should. Therefore, if you’ve had type 2 diabetes for a while but haven’t treated it, your pancreas will make less insulin.
An A1c blood test is done. It shows your average blood sugar level over the previous 2-3 months.
Type 2 diabetes: Diet
You can control blood sugar levels by changing your diet and losing extra weight. This cut your risk of complications. Carefully track the carbs in your diet and keep amounts the same at every meal. Just watch how much fat and protein you eat, and cut calories. For extra help, consult with a dietician to plan out the content and intervals of your meals.
Exercise Is Key
Regular exercise, like strength training or walking, improves your body’s use of insulin and will lower blood sugar levels. Being active also helps get rid of body fat, lower blood pressure, as well as protect you from heart disease. Get 30 minutes of moderate activity at least three times a week.
Type 2 diabetes: Stay Stress Free
Stress can boost your blood pressure and blood sugar. Some people don’t do anything for it. Others turn to food to cope with it. Instead, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization. Talking to a friend, family member, counselor, or a religious leader could help.
If diet and exercise can’t get your blood sugar under control, your doctor may add medication. There are many types of diabetes pills available. They’re often combined. Some work by telling your pancreas to make more insulin. Others help your body use it better or block the digestion of starches. Some will slow insulin breakdown.
Insulin: It’s Not Just for Type 1
Your doctor may prescribe insulin early in your treatment and combine it with pills. It can also help people with type 2 diabetes who develop “beta-cell failure.” This means the cells in your pancreas no longer make insulin when blood sugar is high. If this happens, you will have to take insulin, daily.
New drugs called non-insulin injectables are available for people with type 2 diabetes. These medications cause your body to make insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Heart and Artery Troubles
If you don’t treat diabetes with a healthy diet plus exercise, you’re likely to develop plaque in your arteries. This sticky substance sticks to the walls of the arteries and slows blood flow. Consequently, you increase your risk for blood clots. Your arteries harden (called atherosclerosis), and therefore you are increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. About 67% of people with diabetes die of heart disease.
Type 2 diabetes: Kidney Complications
The longer you have diabetes, the greater the chance you’ll get chronic kidney disease. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. It’s to blame for 50% of new cases. Controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can lower your risk for this complication. Yearly tests and medications will slow the disease and keep your kidneys healthy.
High blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the retina, a critical part of your eye. This is known as diabetic retinopathy, and it may lead to blindness. Indeed, it’s the leading cause of new cases of blindness in people between the ages of 20 and 74.
Diabetic Nerve Pain
Over time, uncontrolled diabetes and high blood sugar can cause nerve damage. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, pain, and a pins and needles sensation, often in your fingers, hands, toes, or feet. The damage can’t be reversed, but there are treatments. Controlling your diabetes will help to prevent further damage.
Type 2 diabetes: Beware Foot Injuries
Diabetic nerve damage can make it hard to feel your feet. You might not notice wounds. At the same time, hardening of the arteries reduces blood flow to the area. Even a small injury can cause foot sores and gangrene. In severe cases, infections can result in an amputation.
Teeth and Gums In Danger
High blood sugar levels can feed the bacteria that make tooth plaque. Plaque buildup leads to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Severe gum disease can cause tooth loss. It weakens gums and the tissues and bones that hold teeth in place. That makes it easier to get an infection, too.
One of the most surprising things about type 2 diabetes is that you can avoid it. To lower your risk, follow the same guidelines for warding off heart disease:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
People with prediabetes can avoid getting this disease with lifestyle changes and medication.
Watch this very informative video by Prime Medic Inc. on Type 2 diabetes: