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Diabetes is a disease that affects your body’s ability to regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels—there are various types of diabetes, which you can read more about in our Diabetes Overview; here we focus on type 2.
Type 2 diabetes typically develops later in life, which is why it was once referred to as adult-onset diabetes. However, it is becoming increasingly prevalent in younger and younger patients. It is thought to be caused by either insufficient insulin production (like type 1 diabetes) or by the body resisting the effects of insulin. Without proper treatment, patients with type 2 diabetes suffer the side effects of high blood sugar, like fatigue and increased hunger, thirst, and urination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 10 American adults have type 2 diabetes. For people 65 and older, the rate is one in four. An estimated seven million people with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed. From 2008 to 2009, 22% of American children and teens were reported to have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a growing health concern in the United States. The American Diabetes Association reports that the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. increased by 128% from 1988 to 2008, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans will have type 2 diabetes by 2050.
Here are some interesting facts about type 2 diabetes:
The American Diabetes Association released new research on March 6, 2013 estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007, when the cost was last examined—a 41% increase over a five year period. This just underscores the significant burden that diabetes as a whole is placing on our society—but can’t speak to the pain and suffering by those with the condition, the time and energy expended by caregivers who are not healthcare providers, and more. Being diagnosed with prediabetes is a chance to halt progression of the disease to type 2—talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to get the help you need so you can stay healthy and vital for the years to come!
Decreased insulin levels or decreased insulin effects are the underlying cause of all diabetes. Insulin is produced by the Islet cells of the pancreas, which then circulate it to your body via the blood stream. In the presence of insulin, glucose (sugar) is able to transfer from the blood stream into the body cells, lowering the blood glucose level and providing the body’s cells with fuel for energy. In diabetic patients, there are several factors that can interfere with this process.
In type 2 diabetes, the body is either unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin, or it is resistant to the effects of insulin. The causes of this are unknown, though it is known to run in families and is much more common among those who are obese. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—which means they have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be type 2. Doctors sometimes refer to prediabetes as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), depending on what test was used when it was detected. This condition puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Prediabetes has no clear symptoms, though some people exhibit some symptoms of the disease, or even have health problems generally associated with diabetes. Blood glucose testing is necessary to confirm diagnosis. At this point of the disease, lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercising moderately, and eating a healthy diet based on whole foods can prevent you from getting type 2, and return your blood sugar levels to normal.
The risk factors for the developing diabetes differ from type to type. Below are the possible risk factors for each type 2 diabetes:
Diabetes can be diagnosed by measuring blood glucose levels. Consistently high blood glucose levels, combined with symptoms of fatigue, excessive thirst, and frequent urination indicate the lack of insulin and/or insulin resistance associated with diabetes.
The following tests can be used to determine blood glucose levels:
People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first and may not have symptoms for many years.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and think you may have diabetes, talk to your doctor.
Type 2 diabetes is also a chronic condition for which there is no cure. Many people with type two diabetes benefit from making changes to their diet and exercise routines to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. When type 2 diabetes patients lose fat cells, they become less insulin resistant and can better control their blood sugar level. The American Diabetes Association reports that losing just 10 to 15 pounds can improve blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
When you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you are helping to control your diabetes.
Here are eight tips for living well with diabetes:
Screening efforts for diabetes are most often directed at type 2 diabetes, as it is the most common form of diabetes. Lifestyle changes like a healthier diet and more frequent exercise can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and lessen the severity of the symptoms if they do develop. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends routine screening for type 2 diabetes beginning at age 45 for all patients, and before age 45 for those who are overweight or may be at risk. Doctors will often declare patients as pre-diabetics or as having borderline diabetes, which both indicate a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Patients are said to be at risk of prediabetes or borderline diabetic if they fit several of the following criteria:
Patients with prediabetes or at risk of prediabetes are encouraged to eat healthier, exercise, and lose weight in order to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For those at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, preventative medications may be prescribed.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—which means they have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes. Doctors sometimes refer to prediabetes as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), depending on what test was used when it was detected. This condition puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You will not develop type 2 diabetes automatically if you have prediabetes. For some people with prediabetes, early treatment can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range.
According to the American Diabetes Association, you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58% by:
Even if you have type 2 diabetes in your family, the following healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent you from getting the disease:
The treatment for diabetes can vary from type to type. For type 2 diabetes, if diet and exercise do not help keep your blood sugar at normal or near-normal levels, your doctor may prescribe medication. Since these drugs help lower your blood sugar levels in different ways, your doctor may have you take more than one drug.
Here, from the American Diabetes Association web site, are the ADAs definitions of the types of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes:
There are several treatments that have been proven to be effective and safe complementary treatments. These include:
According to The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is no evidence that herbal supplements can help to control diabetes or its complications despite several studies that have attempted to prove their worth.
Herbal supplements that have not yet been proven to be effective are:
Research on several of the above remedies is ongoing as the alternative medicine community searches for effective diabetes treatment methods.
Many people with diabetes live happy, healthy lives. In order to keep your symptoms in check and your blood glucose levels within range, follow these tips:
If you suspect that you have diabetes or you find that you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms of diabetes, you should talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to run the proper diagnostic tests and determine whether or not diabetes is causing your symptoms.
If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, call your doctor immediately if:
Call 911 emergency services right away if you have symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) a life-threatening condition that develops when the body is not getting enough insulin. These include:
If you suspect you have diabetes, schedule a visit with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) for a complete physical to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. Your doctor will then give you referrals to specialists. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your diabetic care team should include a:
For a directory of doctors and experts:
If you receive a diabetes diagnosis, you may want to ask your doctor the following questions:
If you suspect you may be at risk for diabetes, you may want to ask the following:
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) its mission is to raise awareness of this growing disease. Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
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