What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic and lifelong condition that is characterized by the inability of the cells in your body to respond adequately to insulin; the hormone that brings glucose from the blood to the cells where it is used for energy. Due to the inability of the cells to utilize the sugar in the insulin, blood sugar levels rise and the body is forced to rely on alternative energy sources in muscles and internal organs, and other parts of your body.
It is the most common type of diabetes in the world and the World Health Organisation estimated that close to 69.2 million people in India were living with diabetes in India as of 2015. Lifelong medication might be required or reasonable control of blood sugar may be achieved through lifestyle changes.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
The problem with Type 2 Diabetes is that it is not always easy to detect as symptoms may be unnoticeable. Some of the indications or Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes are listed below.
- Excessive thirst and urination: Both these symptoms are the result of the body working to get rid of the extra sugar in the blood.
- Weight loss: Unintentional loss of weight without any change in lifestyle or physical activity.
- Wounds that do not heal: Skin cuts or open wounds that take longer than usual to heal or do not heal at all.
- Blurry vision: Often one of the first warning signs of diabetes.
- Hunger: Constant urge to eat as the body is not able to harness the energy it is supposed to.
- Fatigue and tiredness: General lack of energy and stamina that causes individuals to get tired very easily with minimal physical activity.
These symptoms may worsen as the disease progresses and if left untreated.
Who is at Risk?
The Risk Factors of Type 2 Diabetes are varied but there are some specific factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, that could contribute to a greater risk of developing the disease.
- Age: those who are over 45 years of age run a higher chance of suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.
- Family history: hereditary risks may exist if a sibling or parent is a Type 2 Diabetic.
- Race: those of African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian descent are two to four times more likely to be diabetic.
- Obesity or being overweight: an unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits.
- Smoking has also been observed to pose higher risks.
- High blood pressure: individuals who have at some point had high blood pressure.
- Lack of exercise: those who lead sedentary lives with inadequate exercise.
Type 2 Diabetes Causes
The Pancreas is responsible for the production of a hormone called insulin that plays a crucial role in the conversion of glucose into energy. Glucose is a type of sugar that is obtained from the food consumed and when the cells are not able to properly harness this energy from the insulin, blood sugar builds up leading to a variety of problems. Scientists have offered several explanations for why this happens and a genetic factor might be present in some cases.
The Primary Causes of Type 2 Diabetes include the body’s development of insulin resistance where the cells do not respond properly to the hormone or the body’s inability to produce enough insulin to break down blood sugar.
How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?
There are several diagnostic tests with the help of the symptoms, if any, can help in the detection of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) Test: Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis is usually done with the help of this blood test that indicates a person’s average blood sugar levels calculated for a period of around two or three months.
- Random Blood Sugar Test: Regular checkups to measure sugar levels in the blood can also help diagnose Type 2 Diabetes if the results are abnormally high and especially when there are accompanying symptoms.
- Fasting blood sugar test: A blood sample is taken after the individual fasts for at least eight hours overnight to negate the influence of recent meals and food intake. Two tests usually needed to diagnose Type 2 Diabetes.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): A liquid is administered to the individual and blood sugar levels are monitored over the next few hours. It is not very common except in the cases of pregnant women.
- Routine screening is recommended for all those over the age of 45 and especially those who are overweight.
How is Type 2 Diabetes Treated?
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is often a mix of both lifestyle changes as well as medication. It is best to consult an Endocrinologist to ascertain the best course of treatment.
- Lifestyle changes: Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes must necessarily include weight loss and healthy eating habits. Eliminating fatty and less nutritious foods from your diet and getting ample exercise is essential to try and reverse the effects of Type 2 Diabetes. Yoga, strength training, or cardio workouts can all be opted for to get more physical activity. The individual will also be required to undergo regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.
- Medication: When lifestyle changes do not achieve the desired results, medication is a must. Metformin is usually considered the best medicine for Type 2 Diabetes which helps the body respond better to insulin. Other medications also include Meglitinides that boost insulin production, insulin shots, and also DPP-4 inhibitors that directly lower blood sugar levels.
A treatment plan can only be devised after adequate consultation and elaborate Type 2 Diabetes tests. It is best to lower sugar intake and control diet while undergoing any treatment and all the advice of the endocrinologist must be followed.
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How can type 2 diabetes be prevented?
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can greatly assist in the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Maintain a healthy weight: do not allow your body weight to rise to unhealthy levels.
- Healthy Diet: reduce consumption of high-calorie, unhealthy processed foods.
- Get Exercise: Ensure at least thirty minutes of exercise a day in the form of jogging, cycling, walking, swimming, strength training, or yoga.
- Quit Smoking.