Type 2 diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes) occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone which helps your body’s cells absorb sugar/glucose) or when your body starts to resist the effects of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common of the two forms with 90%-95% of sufferers believed to have type 2 (and the remaining 5%-10% suffering from type 1). According to Diabetes.co.uk the condition affects over 2 million people in the UK alone and it is becoming a global problem. The condition usually goes unnoticed by sufferers because there are often no clear symptoms. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed by participating in regular exercise and modifying your diet, with approximately 40% of sufferers requiring insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with obesity and is often preceded by pre-diabetes but the exact cause is unknown. Development begins when the cells in your body (in particular the muscles, the liver and the fat cells) stop responding to insulin properly (for some unknown reason). As a result the body is unable to breakdown blood sugar/glucose (the body’s major energy source) properly. This then stimulates a response from the pancreas (which produces additional insulin) and the liver (which releases extra glucose). Over time these responses limit the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin and also cause your cells to become even more resistant to insulin. The overall effect is that blood sugar levels in your body gradually increase over time.
Although the exact cause is unknown, there are a number of risk factors which contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. These include:
– Age: As you age you generally get less active and gain weight, increasing your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. In particular, those over the age of 45 are at a greater risk than their younger counterparts.
– Gestational Diabetes (GDM): If you suffered from GDM during your pregnancy this increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in your life, especially if the GDM was poorly managed at the time.
– Obesity: The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your body’s cells become to insulin increasing the likelihood of higher than normal glucose levels.
– Pre-Diabetes: If you are suffering from pre-diabetes and do not manage it effectively it is very likely to progress into full type 2 diabetes.
– Race: It is unclear why race influences the development of diabetes but unfortunately it does. In particular, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans have a greater chances of contracting type 2 diabetes.
– Relatives: If anyone in your family has previously suffered from type 2 diabetes then this unfortunately increases the risk for you.
– Sedentary Lifestyle: Exercise reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes because it uses glucose for energy and also helps you moderate your blood sugar levels. On the other hand, inactivity increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes as you are getting none of the benefits that exercise provides.
Since the development of type 2 diabetes is gradual it may take a few years before symptoms start to show. Sufferers very often show no symptoms or the symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed. In fact the condition is very often diagnosed as part of a standard medical check up. However, if symptoms do surface they can include:
– Blurred Vision.
– Cuts or Sores that do not Heal Easily.
– Dry Mouth.
– Increased Need to Urinate.
– Increased Thirst Levels.
– Increased Tiredness.
– Loss of Weight (although this is not as prevalent as in Type 1 diabetes).
– Pains in your Leg.
As with type 1 diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis can also affect sufferers of type 2 although it is much less common. One of the more significant risks which does affect type 2 diabetics is hyperosmotic non-ketotic acidosis (HONK) (also known as nonketotic hyperosmolar coma, nonketotic hyperglycaemia and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic coma (HHNKC)). This is a type of coma brought on by a lack of insulin in the body which causes blood sugar levels to rise to an excessively high level. The body responds by passing more urine in an attempt to remove this excess glucose from the blood. If you do not consume enough fluids your body can become dehydrated. Hyperosmotic non-ketotic acidosis develops over a period of time and can be fatal if it is left untreated. The signs of hyperosmotic non-ketotic acidosis include:
– Increased Thirst (which does not disappear despite adequate fluid consumption).
– Dry Skin (that does not sweat).
– Fever with a Temperature.
– Weakness in one side of the body.
If you notice any of the above symptoms then it is essential that you get yourself checked by your doctor for diabetes. They will be able to perform a number of tests and can let you know whether you have contracted type 2 diabetes. Two of the most popular tests are discussed below:
1) FASTING PLASMA GLUCOSE TEST (FPG):- You will need to fast for eight hours prior to this test. Following your fast, your doctor will take a blood sample and measure your blood glucose levels. If your reading is above 126 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) this could indicate full diabetes. If this is the case the test will then be performed again and confirmed for accuracy. Failing this test twice (having blood sugar levels over 126 mg/dL) indicates that you have diabetes.
2) ORAL GLUCOSE TOLERANCE TEST (OGTT):- For this test you are again required to avoid food for at least eight hours. After this your doctor will take a blood sample and give you a sugary drink (glucose). A further blood sample will then be taken two hours after consuming this drink. For this test a reading of 200 mg/dL or over indicates the presence of diabetes.
If you fail any of the above tests your doctor will then investigate further to determine whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes your doctor will then be able to give you further advice. You will need to get a home testing kit so that blood sugar levels can be monitored throughout the day but in the majority of cases you can control this condition through positive lifestyle changes alone. The first major change you will have to make is to your diet. You will need to moderate the amount of sugar you consume and spread the amount of carbohydrates (bread, pasta, potatoes) you eat evenly throughout the day. You should also try to eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Doing this will help you moderate your blood sugar levels and also help you keep your weight under control.
Another change will be to exercise more. You should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day and if you do not fancy the gym there are plenty of other options available to you including cycling, swimming and team sports. Regular exercise will help your circulation and allow your muscles to absorb additional glucose, reducing the overall blood sugar levels in your body.
Finally, if you smoke or drink alcohol you are advised to give up smoking and reduce your consumption of alcohol. Smoking is a health risk for everyone but even more so for diabetics as it has been linked with promoting insulin resistance. Alcohol should be OK in small quantities but in larger quantities it can cause hypoglycaemia (very low blood sugar) so you should try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 alcoholic beverages per day.
As stated above, in most cases positive lifestyle changes will be enough to control type 2 diabetes. However, if they do not seem to be having an effect your doctor may have to prescribe insulin injections (approximately 40% of type 2 diabetics require insulin injections) in order to return your blood glucose to normal levels. There are many types of insulin available with each type working in slightly different ways. Your doctor will know which type is best for you and will be able to prescribe the most effective insulin injections should you require them.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition which develops gradually over time and can often be completely negated by making the positive lifestyle changes discussed in this article. Both the risk factors and the symptoms are largely a product of poor health choices. You are the only one who can influence the effect type 2 diabetes will have on you during your life. If you start making positive lifestyle changes today, you can control your type 2 diabetes instead of letting it control you.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative it is intended for general information only. Diabetes is a medical condition and this article is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner. If you have any concerns regarding type 2 or any other form of diabetes you should seek the advice of your doctor immediately.
Blood Glucose/Sugar Information (Wikipedia)
Diabetes and Hypoglycaemia Information (Diabetes.co.uk)
Diabetic Ketoacidosis Information (Yahoo Health)
Hyperosmotic Non-Ketotic Acidosis Information (Diabetes Wikia)
Hypoglycaemia Information (Net Doctor)
Insulin Information (Wikipedia)
Obesity Information (Wikipedia)
Type 2 Diabetes Facts (Net Doctor)
Type 2 Diabetes Facts (Wikipedia)
Type 2 Diabetes Facts (Diabetes.co.uk)
Type 2 Diabetes Facts (BUPA)
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors (Mayo Clinic)
Smoking and Insulin Resistance Study