Type 2 diabetes is a global panic today. Lots of people are being affected by type 2 diabetes, but there is no prompt cure. It’s a lifelong threat for humans. You can keep it under control through many changes of lifestyle and diets, some sorts of regular exercise or movement activities, and some medications. If untreated, the ultimate result of type 2 diabetes can be hazardous.

Lack of sufficient knowledge of it may cause you to fail in controlling it. But we don’t want that. So, we will help you understand the actual type 2 diabetes, its symptoms, causes, risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, and treatments.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (long-term) disease in which glucose (a type of sugar) levels in the bloodstream go up. The pancreas produces and releases insulin, a naturally occurring hormone when you eat. The hormone- insulin helps transfer the glucose from the blood into the cells. Then the cells turn the glucose from the food into energy.

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term or lifelong medical condition that hinders the body from using insulin naturally. It obstructs the body from regulating and using sugar as a fuel. This chronic condition causes excess sugar to flow into the bloodstream. Consequently, high blood sugar levels build up there, which can cause disorders of the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems.

Middle-aged or older people are most prone to this condition. But type 2 diabetes can also affect kids and teens, mainly when they have childhood obesity. Only weight loss, healthy eating, and adequate exercising can help to control the disease. You may require some diabetes medication or insulin therapy if diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar.

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are different from the symptoms of diabetes. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop so slowly that you cannot know it even after living with this disease for years. If you have diabetes type 2, your body can’t effectively use insulin to send glucose into your cells. Then your body depends on alternative sources of energy in your tissues, muscles, and organs. This chain reaction can cause various symptoms including,

  • Increased thirst
  • Constant hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • A lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Dry mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Foot pain
  • Being cranky
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, which is neuropathy
  • Darkened areas or patches in the skin, usually in the armpits and neck

When you have two or more of these symptoms, see a doctor. Diabetes can become life-threatening if untreated.

If you see dark rashes around your neck or armpits, then too, see a doctor because this acanthosis of nigricans might indicate your body’s resistance to insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes Causes

With type 2 diabetes, the body grows to be resistant to insulin. The body no longer uses the hormone as before, forcing the pancreas to work harder to produce more insulin, damaging cells in the pancreas over time. Eventually, the pancreas may lose the ability to produce any insulin.

If the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin efficiently, glucose grows in the bloodstream. The body cells fail to absorb enough sugar. So the cells starve for energy. The exact reason for this is still unknown. Obesity and an inactive lifestyle are key factors contributing to it.

A combination of things responsible for causing type 2 diabetes includes:

  • Genes- Scientists have found bits of DNA that can affect your body while making insulin.
  • Excess weight- Being overweight or obese may cause insulin resistance.
  • Metabolic syndrome- People with insulin resistance are often found to have grouped conditions comprising high blood sugar, high blood pressure, extra fat around the waist, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Too much glucose from the liver- When blood sugar is low, the liver makes and provides extra glucose that may cause diabetes.
  • Bad communication between cells- Sometimes, cells deliver the wrong signals or don’t receive messages correctly. Then a chain reaction can lead to diabetes.
  • Broken beta cells- If the cells make insulin send out insulin disorderly, the blood sugar rises, which can damage the cells and cause diabetes.
  • Lack of exercise- Lack of physical activity is another reason.
  • Unhealthy meal planning- A meal having high-fat foods and insufficient fiber increases the possibility of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

Drug therapy is not essential for all people with diabetes type 2. Significant lifestyle changes through healthy eating plans and exercise alone can be effective enough. But some other symptoms and complications may require treatment.

Your nutritional deficiencies should be replenished, heart or kidney disease may need treatment, and an eye specialist must check vision for eye problems like diabetic retinopathy.

Type 2 diabetes treatments include

Dietary supplements and Weight loss – To manage diabetes type 2, maintain a healthy weight. You can manage blood sugar levels by altering your diet and losing excess weight. This can cut or minimize the risk of complications. Set the carbs in your diet carefully and keep the amounts the same at every meal. Watch intensively how much fat and protein you consume and cut calories. For further help, consult a dietician to plan out the content and duration between your meals.

Diabetic eating plan:

  • Low in saturated fats and cholesterol
  • No trans fats
  • Low in total calories

Nutritionally balanced with adequate amounts of:

  • Whole-grain foods
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Monounsaturated oils
  • A daily multivitamin is suggested for most people with diabetes.

Exercise- Regular exercises, such as strength training or walking, develop your body’s insulin use and reduce blood sugar levels. Being active also helps get relief of body fat, lower blood pressure, and protect you from heart disease. Note- you should have 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times a week.

Stay stress-free- Stress can high your blood pressure and blood sugar. Practice some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization. Talking to a friend, family member, counselor, or religious leader can also help.

Oral drugs- If diet and exercise are not enough to get blood sugar under control, your doctor may add some medications. There are many types of diabetes pills available. They’re often combined, and some work by making your pancreas produce more insulin. Others work to help your body use it better or block the digestion of starch. Some can slow insulin breakdown.

Injectable drugs- Your doctor may suggest insulin early in your treatment, combining it with pills. Also helpful for patients with diabetes type 2 developing “beta-cell failure,” meaning- cells in your pancreas stop making insulin when your blood sugar is high. If so happens, you have to take insulin regularly.

Nowadays, new drugs called non-insulin injectables are available for people who have type 2 diabetes that causes the body to make insulin.

Treating other problems like sleep apnea- Sleep apnea can cause many health complications besides leaving you tired in the morning. If untreated, this sleeping condition can:

  • Trigger mental health issues
  • Contribute to memory loss
  • Lead to poor immune function
  • Increase risk of heart failure

Common treatments for sleep apnea may include breathing devices, medication, and surgery. Some lifestyle changes and home care can also develop your quality of life and sleep. Furthermore, consulting a doctor can help.

Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis and Test

Type 2 diabetes is identified by testing the blood sugar levels. Blood is generally tested in the morning after you fast overnight.

Usually, the body keeps blood sugar levels between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), even after fasting. When your blood sugar level after fasting becomes higher than 125 mg/dL, you have diabetes.

Your doctor will check you to find out:

  • Obesity, especially abdominal Obesity.
  • High blood pressure
  • Deposits of blood or unexpected yellow spots in the retina of your eyes
  • Reduced sensation in the legs
  • Weak pulses in the feet
  • Blisters, ulcers, or some infections of the feet

Laboratory tests, done routinely for evaluating diabetes, include:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
  • Random blood glucose test.
  • Hemoglobin A1C (glycosylated hemoglobin) test.
  • Blood creatinine and urine microalbumin test.
  • Lipid profile test.

Type 2 Diabetes MeaningType 2 Diabetes Risk Factor

We may not realize the exact causes of type 2 diabetes, but we know that certain factors can put you at high risk. You can control some of them, but some are out of your control. Again, some risk factors are for women only.

Controllable:

  • Weight: Being overweight or obese is one of the main risk factors. Being overweight means that you have more fatty tissues than usual, making your cells more resistant to insulin.
  • Fat distribution: Extra fat in the abdomen can enhance your risk more than extra fat in the hips and thighs. Your risk of type 2 diabetes increases if you’re a man with a waist above 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) or a woman above 35 inches (88.9 centimeters).
  • Inactivity: Physical activity is much helpful to control your weight, use up glucose as energy, and make your cells more sensitive to insulin. If you are less active, you may face a greater risk.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Your sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk for diabetes type 2. Regular exercise can use up the glucose and help your cells respond better to insulin.
  • High-fat and carbohydrate diets: High-fat and carbohydrate diets can sometimes result from food insecurity if you don’t have access to enough healthy food.
  • Alcohol: High alcohol intake brings an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Avoid Junk food: Eating a lot of junk foods or overeating creates havoc on your blood glucose levels.
  • Too Much TV Time: The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that watching too much TV (and sitting too much in general) may high your risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some other ailments.

Uncontrollable:

  • Family history: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parents or siblings have type 2 diabetes.
  • Race and ethnicity: People of specific races and ethnicities, including Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian people, and Pacific Islanders, are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people. However, it is not clear yet why.
  • Blood lipid levels: It’s a high risk associated with low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. It’s too low if it’s less than 40 mg/dL.
  • High blood triglyceride (fat) levels: Over 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is too high for you.
  • Heart disease: Heart disease is the number one cause of death among people having type 2 diabetes.
  • If you’ve had an organ transplant.
  • Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you grow older, especially after age 45.
  • Prediabetes: Prediabetes is a condition of your health in which your blood sugar level is higher than usual, but not to be classified as diabetes. If not treated, prediabetes progresses to type 2 diabetes.
  • Darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck, often indicates insulin resistance.

For women only:

  • Pregnancy-related risks: Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases if you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome, a general condition defined by irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair growth, and Obesity, increases diabetes type 2.
  • If you delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you have or are developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Preventing type 2 diabetes needs teamwork. It would help if you worked closely with your doctor, but many results depend on your actions.

Only a well-planned healthy lifestyle can prevent most cases of type 2 diabetes. A comprehensive research study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, found that people making intensive lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, alleviated their risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Those more than 60 years old seemed to get extra benefit as they could reduce their risk by 71%. In contrast, people given the drug metformin for diabetes prevention could reduce their risk only by 31%.

If you have a close relative, particularly a parent or sibling, having type 2 diabetes, or if your blood glucose test identifies your glucose levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL—you are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Try to prevent it by:

  • Achieving and maintaining your ideal body weight.
  • Exercising regularly- like a brisk walk of 1-2 miles in 30 minutes- at least five times a week can help reduce insulin resistance, even if you don’t lose weight.
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet including non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, whole-grains fiber, and unsaturated fats. Better to avoid unhealthy fats, sugars, and simple carbohydrates.
  • Taking all your medication as recommended. The medication metformin (Glucophage) can give some additional protection for people having prediabetes.

If you already have type 2 diabetes, you can still prevent or delay complications:

  • Keep tight control of your blood sugar. This can reduce the risk of most complications.
  • Better to use a home monitoring system to test your blood glucose levels between doctor visits regularly. Consult your doctor on how often to do that and what your target should be.
  • Lower your risk of heart-related complications by:
  • Taking a daily aspirin, especially if you already have some signs of heart disease.
  • Strictly managing other risk factors for atherosclerosis, like:
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides, and
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Visit an eye doctor and a foot specialist every year to decrease eye and foot-related complications.

Type 2 Diabetes Complication

Type 2 diabetes is manageable for many people. If not managed properly, it can harm all the organs and create serious, potentially life-threatening complications.

Potential complications from type 2 diabetes include:

  • Digestive problems, including gastroparesis.
  • Eye problems. Retinal damage or diabetic retinopathy can cause deteriorating vision, glaucoma, and cataracts. Untreated retinopathy can cause blindness.
  • Foot problems, including leg and foot ulcers. The skin may break down, cause an ulcer, and the ulcer can get infected. Poor circulation to the feet makes it hard to heal if you have a cut or an infection and can also cause gangrene and loss of the foot or leg
  • Gum disease and other mouth problems.
  • Hearing loss or hearing impairment.
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney disease or Nephropathy can cause damage to the kidneys. This is more likely if blood sugar level remains high and high blood pressure is not treated seriously.
  • Liver problems, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) may cause a loss of sensation or numbness and tingle in your legs. It may also cause some digestive issues – vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin conditions such as bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, angina, heart attack, and stroke
  • Urinary tract infections and bladder infections.
  • Atherosclerosis problems — Atherosclerosis builds up fats in the artery walls that obstruct blood circulation to all the organs. The legs, heart, brain are most often affected.
  • The danger of teeth and gums- High blood sugar feeds the bacteria that can make tooth plaque. Built-up plaque leads to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Severe gum disease causes tooth loss, weakens the tooth-holding gums, tissues, and bones. This makes it easier to get an infection.
  • Hypoglycemia- Hypoglycemia occurs while your blood sugar level is low. The symptoms include shakiness, dizziness, and difficulty speaking.
  • Hyperglycemia- Hyperglycemia can occur when your blood sugar is high. It’s usually featured by frequent urination and increased thirst.

Complications During and After Pregnancy

If you have diabetes during your pregnancy period, you should monitor your condition carefully. Poorly controlled diabetes can:

  • Complicate pregnancy, labor, and delivery
  • Cause your baby to gain too much weight
  • Harm your baby’s developing organs

It can also amplify your baby’s risk of growing diabetes during their lifetime.

Final Thoughts

Diabetes type 2 is associated with a wide range of complications. If it goes untreated or uncontrolled, it may bring about many severe harmful conditions. So, be careful and get it treated or take measures to control it as early as possible.