Type 2 Diabetes

Type
2 diabetes is when your body can’t make enough insulin, or use it well. Insulin helps
your cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. Without insulin, glucose builds up in your
blood. This leads to high blood sugar.

Type
2 diabetes is an ongoing (chronic) disease. It has no known cure. It’s the most common
type of diabetes.

The
exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not known. It seems to run in families. But it often
takes other factors to bring on the disease. These include:

  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Taking certain medicines

Risk
factors include:

  • Age. People ages 45 and older are at higher risk for
    diabetes.
  • Family history of diabetes. The condition tends to run in
    families.
  • Extra weight. Being overweight puts you at higher risk.
  • Lack of exercise. Not enough physical activity also puts
    you at risk.
  • Taking certain medicines. These include steroids, some
    water pills (diuretics), and medicines for mental health (antipsychotics).
  • Race and ethnicity. People who have African, Hispanic,
    Asian, Pacific Island, or American Indian heritage are more likely to develop type
    2
    diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes. Having diabetes in pregnancy puts
    you at higher risk of type 2 diabetes later.
  • Low HDL. This means low levels of the “good”
    cholesterol.
  • A high triglyceride level. This is a type of blood
    fat.
  • Smoking. Being a smoker puts you at higher risk.
  • Other health problems. Some health problems are linked
    with type 2 diabetes. These include polycystic ovary syndrome, patches of darker skin
    (acanthosis nigricans) , or being born at a low birth weight.

Symptoms may include:

  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Skin infections that don’t heal easily
  • Feeling
    very thirsty
  • Peeing
    often
  • Weight
    loss
  • Blurred
    vision
  • Nausea
    and vomiting
  • Feeling
    very weak and tired
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Dry,
    itchy skin
  • Tingling
    or loss of feeling in the hands or feet

Some
people who have type 2 diabetes don’t have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild and you
may
not notice them. Half of all Americans who have diabetes don’t know it.

The
symptoms of type 2 diabetes may feel like other health problems. See your healthcare
provider for a diagnosis.

Diabetes can be diagnosed with several tests. It’s best to repeat the tests a second
time to confirm the results. The tests include:

  • Hemoglobin A1C test. This is the
    A1C test. It measures your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. An A1C
    of 6.5% or higher means you have diabetes. Some conditions can affect how accurate
    the A1C test is. These conditions include sickle cell disease, pregnancy ,
    glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, HIV, hemodialysis, recent blood loss
    or
    transfusion, and erythropoietin therapy.
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG). This
    test checks your blood glucose levels after 8 hours of fasting. You usually get this
    test before your first meal of the day. This is called your fasting blood glucose
    level. A result higher than or equal to 126 mg/dL means you have diabetes.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
    For this test, your glucose level is measured before and then after 2 hours after
    you
    drink a sugary drink. This shows how well your body processes glucose. A result of
    200 mg/dL or higher after 2 hours means you have diabetes.
  • Random glucose test. This blood test
    is done at any time of the day. Blood glucose of 200 mg/dL or higher with symptoms
    of
    high blood sugar means you have diabetes.

If you don’t have any symptoms of hyperglycemia, you will need to
have 2 abnormal test results from the same sample or in 2 separate test samples to
be
diagnosed. For example: a fasting plasma glucose greater than 126 and an A1C greater
than 6.5% from the same sample.

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The
goal of treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, but
not
too low. To do this, you will need to control your blood sugar. You will need to check
it regularly.

You
may be able to control your type 2 diabetes with:

  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating habits

But you may also need to take medicine or insulin.

Treatment may include some or all of these:

  • Being more active. Get at least 150
    minutes a week of exercise or physical activity. Don’t let more than 2 days go by
    without being active. When sitting for long periods of time, get up for light
    activity every 30 minutes.
  • Meal planning. You will need to eat
    foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to rise too quickly. Your healthcare provider
    will give you resources about what foods to plan your meals around.
  • Weight loss. Losing just 5% to 7% of
    your body weight can help. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to help you
    lose weight.
  • Taking medicine. There are different
    types of medicines to treat type 2 diabetes. Each type works in a different way to
    lower blood sugar. You may take one or more medicines to improve your blood sugar
    control.
  • Taking insulin. If oral medicines
    don’t work well for you, you may need to inject insulin into your body.
  • Getting blood tests. You will need
    to have your A1C level checked several times a year. Experts advise testing at least
    twice a year if your blood sugar level is in the target range and stable. You will
    need this test more often if your blood sugar level is not stable.
  • Routine healthcare. Keep all
    appointments. This is so your healthcare provider can track your diabetes. You will
    also need to check your feet daily. This is to look for sores or infection. These
    can
    lead to severe foot problems.

Diabetes that is not treated or controlled well can cause problems.
These can include problems with:

  • Kidneys
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Nerves
  • Blood
    flow

This
can lead to:

  • Heart
    failure
  • Kidney
    failure
  • Gangrene
  • Amputation of feet
  • Blindness
  • Stroke

For
these reasons, it is important to follow a strict treatment plan.

  • Type 2 diabetes is when your body can’t make enough insulin, or
    use it well.
  • Insulin helps the cells in your body absorb glucose for energy.
    Without insulin, too much glucose is left in the blood. This causes high blood
    sugar.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease. It has no known cure. It
    is the most common type of diabetes.
  • The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not known. It tends to run
    in families.
  • Diabetes that is not treated or controlled can lead to serious
    health problems.
  • The goal of treatment is to keep your blood sugar levels as
    close to normal as possible, but not too low. You will need to control your blood
    sugar. You will need to get physical activity, plan meals, and get regular
    healthcare.

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells
    you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments,
    or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also
    know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that
    visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.