What Is Type 2 Diabetes and How Does It Affect You? Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes
What Is Type 2 Diabetes and How Does It Affect You?
Type 2 diabetes can strike anyone, regardless of their age. Early indications of type 2 diabetes might be overlooked, and persons who are affected may be unaware that they have the disease. One out of every three patients in the early stages of type 2 diabetes is unaware of their condition.
Diabetes obstructs the body’s ability to utilize carbohydrates for energy, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. Chronically high blood sugar levels raise a person’s risk of major health complications.
Untreated high blood sugar can lead to the following long-term consequences: • Nerve disorders • Vision loss • Joint deformities • Cardiovascular illness • Diabetic coma (life-threatening)
Although people with type 2 diabetes may not have specific symptoms, an increase in thirst is one symptom that is characteristic of the condition. The increased thirst can accompany other symptoms like frequent urination, feelings of unusual hunger, dry mouth, and weight gain or loss.
Other symptoms that can occur if high blood sugar levels persist are fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches.
Often, type 2 diabetes is only identified after its negative health consequences are apparent. Certain infections and sores that take a long time to heal are a warning sign. Other possible signs include frequent yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and itchy skin.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes and How Does It Affect You?
Sexual problems can occur as a result of type 2 diabetes. Since diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the sex organs, decreased sensation can develop, potentially leading to difficulties with orgasm. Vaginal dryness in women and impotence in men are other complications of diabetes. Estimates suggest that between 35% and 70% of men with diabetes will eventually suffer from impotence. Statistics for women show that about one-third of women with diabetes will have some sexual dysfunction.
At Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?
Certain risk factors related to both lifestyle choices and medical conditions can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Being overweight or obese, especially around the waist
- Lack of exercise
- Consuming a diet that is high in processed meat, fat, sweets, and red meats
- Triglyceride levels over 250 mg/dL
- Low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol (below 35 mg/dL)
Inherited Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
Some risk factors for diabetes can’t be controlled. Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, and African Americans have a higher than average risk for getting diabetes. Having a family history (parent or sibling) with diabetes increases your risk. Those over 45 have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than younger people.
What Are Women’s Type 2 Diabetes Risks?
Women who developed gestational diabetes in pregnancy have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. The same goes for women who have babies larger than 9 pounds.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a health problem characterized by many small cysts in the ovaries, irregular periods, and high levels of androgen hormones. Because one symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome is insulin resistance, women with this condition are considered at higher risk for diabetes as well.
How Does Insulin Work?
Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to efficiently use glucose as fuel. After carbohydrates are broken down into sugars in the stomach, glucose enters the blood circulation and stimulates the pancreas to release insulin in the proper amount. Insulin allows body cells to uptake glucose as energy.
In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells cannot take up glucose properly, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance means that although the body can produce insulin, the body’s cells do not respond properly to the insulin that is made. Over time, the pancreas reduces the amount of insulin that it produces.
How Type 2 Diabetes is Diagnosed
The hemoglobin A1c test measures the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin (hemoglobin bound to glucose) in your blood and provides information about your average blood glucose levels over the previous 2 to 3 months. Hemoglobin A1c levels over 6.5% are suggestive of diabetes. Another diagnostic test is the fasting blood glucose test. If your fasting blood glucose level is over 126, this establishes that diabetes is present. Random blood glucose levels over 200 are also consistent with diabetes
Diabetes and Nutrition
Keeping blood sugar levels under control can assist to lower the risk of diabetes complications. To assist you in developing a healthy eating plan, your doctor can send you to a licensed dietician or diabetic counselor. Many people with type 2 diabetes will need to keep track of their carbohydrate intake and cut back on calories. It’s also a good idea to keep track of your total fat and protein intake.
People with type 2 diabetes can benefit from regular exercise, such as walking, to help lower their blood glucose levels. Physical activity also aids in the reduction of body fat, the reduction of blood pressure, and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. On most days, patients with type 2 diabetes should get 30 minutes of moderate activity.
Diabetes patients are especially vulnerable to stress. Not only does stress raise blood pressure, but it also raises blood glucose levels. Many diabetics find that using relaxation techniques can help them better control their disease. Visualization, meditation, and breathing exercises are among examples. Using social support networks, such as conversing with a relative or friend, a member of the clergy, or a counselor, can also be beneficial.
Medications Taken Orally
For those with type 2 diabetes who can’t regulate their blood sugar with diet and exercise, oral medication is indicated. There are many different types of oral diabetic drugs, and they can be used in combination for the greatest outcomes. Some enhance insulin production, while others improve insulin sensitivity.
body’s use of insulin, while still others partially block the digestion of starches. Your doctor can determine the best medication for your individual requirements.
Some people with type 2 diabetes also take insulin, sometimes in combination with oral medications. Insulin is also used in “beta-cell failure,” a condition in which the pancreas no longer produces insulin in response to elevated blood glucose. This can occur in people with type 2 diabetes. If insulin is not produced, insulin treatment is necessary.
There are other non-insulin drugs given in injection form that are used to treat type 2 diabetes. Examples are pramlintide (Symlin), exenatide (Byetta), and liraglutide (Victoza). These drugs stimulate the release of insulin.
Testing Your Blood Sugar
Your doctor can suggest how often you should test your blood glucose. Testing can give a good idea of the extent to which your diabetes is under control and can tell you if your management plan needs to be altered.
Common Times to Test Blood Sugar
- First thing in the morning
- Before and after meals
- Before and after exercise
- Before bed
Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Attacks
Around two out of every three people with diabetes die of heart disease. Over time, elevated blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of clots. This increases the risk of heart attack. People with diabetes are also at an increased risk for stroke because of the damage to blood vessels.
Kidney Risks Related to Type 2 Diabetes
The risk for developing chronic kidney disease increases with time in people with diabetes. Diabetes is the most common cause of renal failure, making up about 44% of cases. Keeping your diabetes under control can reduce the risk of kidney failure. Medications are also used to reduce the risk of kidney disease in people with diabetes.
Diabetes Type 2 and Eye Damage
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which the small blood vessels within the retina of the eye are damaged over time as a result of elevated blood sugar levels. This can result in progressive and irreversible visual loss. In persons aged 20 to 74, diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of new blindness. Hemorrhages, or pools of blood, can be seen in the retina in this photograph.
Pain in the Nerves
Diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage caused by diabetes, causes tingling, numbness, and a “pins and needles” sensation. The hands, feet, fingers, and toes are the most commonly affected areas. Diabetes control can help prevent this problem.
Damage to the nerves produced by diabetes can make it difficult to sense injuries to the feet.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
In many cases, type 2 diabetes can be avoided. At the very least, eating a good diet, exercising moderately, and maintaining a healthy weight can help to lower the risk of diabetic complications. People at risk should also be evaluated for diabetes and prediabetes so that treatment can begin early in the disease’s progression. This lowers the chances of long-term issues.