Type 2 Diabetes: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition which affects the way the body metabolizes glucose, which is a crucial source of fuel for the body. With the condition, the body can either resist insulin effects or produce inadequate insulin to regulate a normal blood glucose level.
What is Insulin?
It is a hormone produced by the pancreas and aids in regulating blood sugar levels; preventing the levels from getting too high or too low. The disorder is increasingly affecting children as childhood obesity goes up, although it is more common in adult aged 45 years and above. The disease can take many years to develop since the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes are mild and difficult to detect. During the long period, insulin resistance begins; the insulin hormone becomes ineffective at controlling blood sugar levels. Due to insulin resistance, the pancreas produces insulin in higher amounts as a response with an aim of managing the blood glucose levels. Over a long period of time, overproduction of insulin occurs. The beta cells wear out, by the time the ailment is diagnosed, 50% to 70% of the beta cells have been lost; this explains why the condition is a combination of inadequate insulin and ineffective insulin as previously mentioned.
Signs and Symptoms
T2D symptoms are difficult to detect as they may be associated with growing older or a busy day at work. From the above explanation, it is clear that the ailment can be present for many years without the patient realizing it. However, it can be diagnosed during a routine checkup; that’s why it’s advisable to go for a general check up at least once annually. How can you detect signs of type 2 diabetes? Since it can be hard to note the symptoms as they are less severe, it’s advisable to be keen on any sign which may be out of the ordinary such as increased hunger and seek medical attention. Don’t wait until the situation gets out of hand.
Common Symptoms of T2D
- Frequent urination – elevated sugar levels trigger fluid to be pulled from your tissues, thus the quantity of fluid delivered to the kidneys increases. Consequently, you will urinate more, leading to dehydration.
- Increased thirst -due to dehydration, one will become thirsty. The more one visits the washroom to urinate; the urge to drink goes up and vice versa.
- Increased hunger – the muscles and organs become depleted of energy due to inadequate insulin levels to move sugars into the cells. This prompts intense hunger.
- Weight loss – despite eating more because of increased hunger, you can lose weight. Without the ability of the body to metabolize glucose, alternative source of energy preserved in the muscles and fat is used as fuel. As you urinate, calories are lost.
- Fatigue – glucose is the main source of energy, as the cells are deprived of the sugars, you become worn out easily and angered.
- Blurred vision – elevated sugar levels can result in swelling of the lens in your eye, hence blurry vision. Regulating blood sugar levels may correct the vision problems. Nonetheless, if blood glucose levels remain elevated for a long time, other eye related problems may occur.
- Recurring infections and sores – high glucose levels make it difficult for the body to heal. Hence, injuries like cuts take longer to heal. This makes you more prone to infection.
Sometimes, people don’t notice the signs of diabetes type 2. High blood sugar can result in long-term complications, for example:
- A high risk of heart disease
- Foot problems
- Kidney disease
- Eye disease
- Nerve damage
Furthermore, individuals with diabetes are at a high risk for severe bladder infections. Although it may be hard to detect till it has spread to your kidneys. To prevent serious complications, it’s vital to visit a health care professional if you encounter symptoms of T2D explained above.
What Causes T2D?
It is hard to be conclusive on the causes of T2D when several contributing factors are present. Insulin resistance or inadequate insulin is considered the main cause of the ailment; the exact reason for this is unknown. Researchers do not comprehend why some individuals develop the disease, whereas others don’t. However, there are risk factors associated with the condition such as:
- Overweight or obesity – lack of physical activity and poor eating habits can trigger obesity or make it worse and increases chances of becoming insulin resistant as well as causing other health problems. Nonetheless, one doesn’t need to obese to develop diabetes
- Fat distribution – the risk of developing type II diabetes is higher if fat is stored mainly in the abdomen than when the fat is stored elsewhere like the hips and thighs.
- Lack of exercise – the less active one is, the greater the chance of getting diabetes. Exercise aids in controlling weight, better usage of glucose as energy and the cells are more sensitive to insulin.
- Family history – genes control body processes and you are at risk of getting diabetes type II if a parent or sibling has it. But if you eat a healthy diet and exercise daily, you may not get the ailment.
- Age– chances of getting diabetes increases as one age, especially past 45 years, since a person tend to exercise less, gain weight and lose muscle mass.
- Pre-diabetes – it is a condition in which the blood glucose levels are higher than normal, though not high enough to be termed as diabetes. If medical attention isn’t sought, pre-diabetes may lead to diabetes type II.
- Gestational diabetes – if one experienced diabetes during pregnancy, the risk of getting type II diabetes is higher.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – women with PCOS are insulin resistant and may have pre-diabetes if medical intervention is not sought, a female may develop diabetes.
- Diet – eating a meal with high-fat foods and without fiber raises the chances of becoming diabetic.
- Medications– some drugs are linked to increasing the risk of being diabetic. If a drug is thought to be the cause of diabetes, it is termed as drug-induced diabetes.
- Stress – as a result of stress, a number of hormones are released such as cortisol. Cortisol increases blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin resistance. The more stressed you are, the high the risk of diabetes.
- Poor sleep – according to studies, sleep deprivation, even just for a single night may increase insulin resistance.
Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
If diabetic, it’s important to see a medical care provider to put you on a T2D treatment plan. From the discussion above, it’s clear that the illness is severe and treatment lowers the risk of complications. The main aim of type 2 treatment is to regulate blood glucose levels and can be achieved by:
- Healthy eating- a healthy diet is key to keep glucose levels stable. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Adopt low glycemic index foods to stabilize blood sugar levels. A nutritionist can assist you to come with a diet plan that suits your food preferences, health goals, and lifestyle.
- Get involved in physical activity at least 30 minutes once daily – but first, consult a doctor to ascertain you are in good health condition to exercise. Then, choose the activity you enjoy most, like biking, walking, and swimming. If you have been inactive for some time, start slowly and increase the exercises gradually. Bear in mind exercises regulates blood glucose levels and aids in weight loss. Before any physical activity, it’s recommended to check blood sugar levels and to take a snack to curb low blood sugar.
- Medicines – It’s possible to treat (manage) blood sugar levels through healthy eating and physical exercise alone, but some patients may need to take medication or insulin therapy to control their blood sugar levels. The physician will decide on which medicines to take, depending on many factors, for example, the blood sugar levels and existing medical conditions you might have. If need be, the doctor may put you on a combination therapy to deal with high blood glucose levels. Possible treatments for diabetes are Metformin, Glynase, Pioglitazone or any other medicine prescribed by the physician.
While on the therapy, it’s vital to check and record blood sugar levels frequently to ensure blood glucose levels remain within the targeted range; the health care practitioner may recommend checking sugar levels several times a day.
Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.