We can all agree that no one wants to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes–or any type of diabetes for that matter– but if you have been diagnosed of it, the best thing you can do is to know all there is about this condition and how best to manage it.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when Blood sugar (glucose) level, rises due to the inability of insulin to work properly.
It is the most common type of diabetes accounting for 90% of all diabetic cases. In Type 2 diabetes the body still produces Insulin (unlike type 1 diabetes), but your cells are unable to use it efficiently.
Type 2 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in older adults, from 45 years and above, but it can also be found in teenagers as well as kids, especially those that are obese.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
The cause of type two diabetes is due to insulin resistance. In the body, your pancreas produces the hormone insulin. The role of insulin is to control the movement of blood sugar from your food, into your body cells, which then uses it as energy. When the insulin been produced cannot be utilized properly by the cells, this is called insulin resistance.
At first, your body tries to make extra insulin to process the extra blood sugar, but your pancreas is unable to keep up with the excess demand, and the excess blood sugar is retained in the blood and causes damages.
Over time, the cell would require more insulin but the pancreas won’t be able to make enough and it will begin to fail. This is the reason why some people with type 2 diabetes also require insulin injections at a later stage.
What are the Risk Factors of Type 2 Diabetes?
A risk factor for an ailment entails those things that makes you likely to have that ailment. They are several risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Some of these factors are out of your control, like health related factors. They include:
• Being overweight or obese.
• Being 45 years and above.
• Being in a family with a history of diabetes.
• Having prediabetes.
• Having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a child that weighs more than 9pounds.
• Having a history of high blood pressure.
• Having polycystic ovary syndrome.
• Having impaired glucose tolerance.
Meanwhile, there are other risk factors that can be checked. They are your daily habits and lifestyle that can be altered to prevent or manage diabetes. They include:
• Consuming too much added sugar and processed food.
• Drinking Soda.
• Living a sedentary lifestyle.
• Poor nutrition during pregnancy.
What are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, the symptoms are mild and barely noticeable. Most people don’t experience any symptoms in the early stages and might not for many years. Because of this, its very important that you get tested for type 2 diabetes (and all types of diabetes), if you have the risk factors. A classic symptom is if you have a cut that takes a long time to heal. Other symptoms include:
• Frequent Urination.
• Excessive thirst.
• Increased hunger.
• Blurred vision.
• Unintentional weight gain or loss.
• Unusual odor to urine.
• Numbness in your hands or feet.
How can you Diagnose Type 2 Diabetes?
The normal blood sugar level is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter(mg/dl), after fasting for at least 8hours, and less than 140 mg/dl, 2 hours after eating.
You can be diagnosed for diabetes when your blood sugar level is 126 mg/dl. Your doctor can test your blood for diabetes using one, or a combination, of four tests. Normally, you will be tested on two different days to confirm the diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed using:
Glycated hemoglobin test.
This blood test is also called hemoglobin A1c test (HbA1c). It shows you your average level of blood sugar over two to three months.
When your HbA1c level is below 5.7%, your blood sugar level is normal. A result between 5.7% and 6.4% indicates prediabetes. While a HbA1c level of 6.5% or above, on two separate tests, shows you have type 2 diabetes.
Random Blood Sugar Test.
This blood test measures the amount of sugar (glucose) circulating in your blood. As it’s name suggests, this test can be carried out at random, regardless of when you last ate.
Your doctor would then use the test result to determine if you are liable to have type 2 diabetes. A blood sample depicting that your blood sugar level is 200 mg/dL or above depicts prediabetes, hence you are at a high risk of having diabetes.
Note that, you would need other tests to confirm a full diagnosis.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test.
Your doctor is able to determine how your body manages blood sugar, by carrying out the fasting blood sugar test.
This test is carried out after an overnight fast, that means you can’t eat or drink anything (except water), 8 hours before the fast.
If your test result is less than 100 mg/dL, your blood sugar level is normal. And a fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes.
But if your fasting blood sugar is 126 mg/dl or higher, for two separate tests, you have diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.
This test is less commonly used for diagnosing type 2 diabetes but it’s generally used in the course of pregnancy to determine gestational diabetes. An oral glucose tolerance test also requires you to fast overnight, at least for 8 hours. At the doctor’s office, you will be given a sugary liquid to drink and then your blood sugar levels are tested at intervals within 2 hours.
If your blood sugar level reads less than 140 mg/dl, it is normal. A reading between 140 and 199 mg/dl indicates prediabetes, while a reading of 200mg/dl or above, after the required 2 hours, suggests diabetes.
You should also know that, these tests do not only determine if you are diabetic or not, these test are meant to be carried out regularly even after you have been diagnosed, to ensure that your blood sugar level is maintained in it’s range. The test also helps doctors know if your medication is working properly, in order to know if the dosage needs to be increased, reduced or changed completely.
What are the Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes doesn’t have a cure yet, but it can be properly managed with the right medications and healthy lifestyle changes. The aim is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible, and by so doing, delay or prevent complications.
Medications for Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral or injectable medications.
The two most commonly used oral medications for type 2 diabetes are:
Metformin is the first medication prescribed for type 2 diabetes, which works by reducing glucose production in your liver. This, in turn, reduces the insulin resistance and enables your body to use its own insulin more effectively.
Side Effects: Possible side effects includes nuasea and diarrhea, but this will eventually stop when your body becomes used to the drug.
Sulfonylureas acts by stimulating your Pancrease to secret more insulin. It includes gliclazide, glipizide, glibenclamide, glimepiride and tolbutamide.
Side Effects: Possible side effects include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and weight gaint.
Other medications includes:
• DPP-4 inhibitors.
• SGLT2 inhibitors
There are two types of injectable medications which includes:
Insulin is used only in a later stage of type 2 diabetes, when the pancreas wears out and is unable to produce its own insulin.
The insulin helps to move the excess sugar, in the blood, into the cells were they are used as energy or stored as fat.
Side Effect: Possible side effect is low sugar level (hypoglycemia), if too much is taken.
Incretin mimetics, like it’s name suggests, mimics the actions of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, also known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. This hormone functions in response to digestion, by increasing the amount of insulin released and decreasing the amount of glucagon (the hormone that helps raise blood sugar) released. Incretin mimetics advantage over insulin, is that they have a lower risk of causing hypoglycemia.
DPP-4 inhibitors (oral medications), work in a similar way to Incretin mimetics.
Side Effect: Possible side effect is pancreatitis.
Lifestyle Changes for Type 2 Diabetes.
80% of the cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented if one practices a healthy lifestyle. Diabetics who carry out these changes are able to manage their diabetes properly, with some not even needing medications. The lifestyle changes includes:
Your blood sugar level can be lowered drastically from loosing weight. Loosing just 7% to 10% of your body weight can cut your risks of type 2 diabetes in half. You can loose weight by controlling your calorie intake and eating healthy foods.
But if your blood sugar level is critically high or if you are having complication due to your weight, you can undergo weight loss surgery also called Bariatric surgery.
When you are diabetic you need to be careful of the type of food you eat, about the amount of calories you take in. The foods you should avoid are:
• Processed carbs.
• Sugary drinks.
• Saturated fats.
• Processed meats.
Foods you should definitely have in your meal plan are:
• Brown rice.
• Whole wheat.
• Fruits (with an exception to pineapples).
The recommended diet for people with type 2 diabetes is a vegetarian or vegan diet. But if this is not to your liking, a certified dietician can help you set up a meal plan that is suitable and healthy for you.
Physical activities doesn’t solely entail hardcore exercises, it could be something as simple as walking for 30minuites, biking or swimming. The important thing to always consider is to pick activities you enjoy, that can be easily be incorporated into your daily routine.
But remember that physical activities lowers blood sugar, so always check your blood sugar level before an activity.
Also, avoid the sedentary lifestyle. Spend less time in inactive activities like watching TV.
Complications of Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes if not properly managed, can have severe complications. These complications can be chronic, longterm or even life threatening. The complications includes:
Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar level dips below 70mg/dl. It’s also known as low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can occur for many reasons such as skipping meals and taking more insulin than needed.
If it is not recognized early, hypoglycemia can progress quickly, leading to seizures and coma.
• Feeling faint
• Loss of consciousness
• Mood changes
If the symptoms are mild, you can easily resolve your low sugar level with a piece of hard candy, a glucose tablet or honey.
Hyperglycemia occurs when your blood sugar level rises too far. Without treatment, it can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when ketones accumulates in the blood making it too acidic.
• Increased thirst.
• Frequent urination.
Other complications that can arise from Type 2 diabetes are:
• Heart and blood vessel diseases.
• Heart attack.
• Skin problems.
• Nerve damage (neuropathy).
• High blood pressure.
• Eye damage and blindness.
• Foot damage.
• Kidney disease.
Blood Sugar Monitoring.
As necessary as it is to lose weight, eat right, take your drugs and be active, the most important thing to consider while managing diabetes is to constantly monitor your blood sugar level.
Because blood sugar levels easily fluctuates (either from food intake or during exercises), its good to always be aware of it’s range to better control it.
Also, if you are on insulin medication, you need to constantly test your blood sugar level to prevent it from going too low.
Finally…Type 2 diabetes might not have a cure–and is definitely a life-changing condition, but it can be properly managed. Remember to eat well, take your medications on time, see your doctor regularly to monitor your blood sugar level and check for early signs of trouble. Do these and you can live a healthy life.
Have a good day.