How much do you know about Type 2 Diabetes?

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If you don’t lead a healthy lifestyle, maybe you should fear Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a common illness, which can be attributed to various causes, all relating to your blood sugar level. Anybody can be affected by Type 2 Diabetes, so watch out for your way of life as symptoms can be hard to identify and treatments are just no fun!

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Type 2 Diabetes, What is it?

Type 2 Diabetes is a serious medical condition that causes your blood sugar level to exceed normal levels. The blood sugar level is called glycemia. It’s a lifelong condition that will surely affect your everyday life.

Glycemia and Insulin

Diabetes is a medical condition which deals with specific chemicals in your body. This chemical is a hormone, that is called Insulin. Issues dealing with insulin might end up causing Diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, that regulates glycemia, in other words, your blood sugar levels.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is a genetic disease and it usually develops during childhood or puberty.

Type 2 has no genetic causes. Most of the times, Type 2 Diabetes is a hereditary predisposition. So, it will typically develop later in life. Most patients develop it during their mid-40s.

However, younger patients such as kids or teens might also develop Type 2 diabetes, for many different reasons, most of them dealing with an unhealthy lifestyle.

Keep in mind that Type 2 is the most common form of the disease, and that it affects about 9 diabetics out of 10.

Type 1 Diabetes, what are we talking about?

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin. In severe cases, it can even be completely unable to produce any insulin at all. So, people suffering from Type 1 Diabetes need regular injections of this hormone to palliate the lack of insulin.

Type 2 diabetes, let’s take a closer eye!

In the case of type 2 diabetes, the body does produce insulin normally but is unable to process it the way it should. Patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes develop a resistance to the hormone, rendering it ineffective. 

Type 2 diabetes is a multifactorial condition. It involves environmental factors:

  • A fat-rich diet,
  • A lack of physical exercise
  • Obesity
  • Genetic predisposition

Type 2 Diabetes: what symptoms are we talking about?

Source: Wikipedia

The symptoms of this common disease are many. They range from gastric to general symptoms like weight loss or general discomfort. They develop slowly, so you may not feel them all at once, but progressively.

Almost everybody can be affected by this condition

However, as the disease progresses, these symptoms could become more severe and potentially dangerous, so watch out for such symptoms as:

  • Digestive tract: halitosis (bad breath), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains or cramps
  • Respiratory system: hyperventilation (breathing too fast)
  • Central nervous system: polydipsia (increased thirst), polyphagia (increased hunger), blurred vision, headaches, migraine, loss of taste (rare), dry mouth
  • Urinary tract: polyuria (urinating too frequently), glycosuria (sugar in the urine)
  • Reproductive system: frequent vaginal infections
  • Systemic symptoms: weight loss, itchiness, fatigue

Hyperglycemia

Note that the most important symptom of Diabetes appears on a blood test: hyperglycemia (high blood sugar level). This test is necessary to establish a definitive diagnosis of the disease.

Complicated symptoms

When the condition is not diagnosed or treated soon enough, some more severe symptoms might appear, such as:

  • Dementia (decreased mental capacities),
  • Sexual impairment and dysfunction,
  • Kidney failure,
  • Lost of sight and even blindness,
  • Cardiovascular impairment or diseases such as heart attacks or strokes.

Type 2 Diabetes: What are the main causes?

Type 2 Diabetes is a multifactorial disease. Although the main factors are environmental, like obesity or lack of physical exercise, there can also be a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Lifestyle

The main factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes are environmental and caused by your lifestyle.

  • Obesity (defined by a Body Mass Index above 25), or even merely being overweight
  • A fat-rich diet is indeed the determining factors of developing the condition, but others can play a major role as well like
  • Stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise
  • Sleeping issues, too much sleep or too little sleep
  • Smoking or even just urban life.

Risk factors

  • Prediabetes
  • Diseases relating to your heart or blood vessel
  • High blood pressure, even though it’s already being treated and/or under control
  • Low HDL, and cholesterol
  • High level of triglycerides
  • Having a big baby, weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Depression is also a risk factor

Genetics

Genes play their part as well in developing Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, scientists know that many different genes, over 36 genes to be precise, are risk factors, some even increase the risk to develop Type 2 Diabetes by 50%.

Keep in mind that Type 2 Diabetes is not a genetic disease. Genes are only a risk factor, but not a definite trigger of the condition.

Associated diseases and medication

Some other conditions can also predispose patients to develop Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Acromegaly (abnormally long arms and legs),
  • Hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
  • Some forms of cancer (like pancreatic cancer) can indeed induce a predisposition or even trigger Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Some drugs like beta-blockers or statins (blood fat regulating drugs) are among a number of medications that can raise the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes; how does it work?

The role of the pancreas and insulin

The pancreas is a triangular gland located within your abdomen. Its role is both exocrine: it produces substances for external distribution, and endocrine: it produces hormones:

  • Exocrine: the pancreas produces enzymes that help the digestive tract break down food into nutrients, that the intestine will later assimilate.
  • Endocrine: the pancreas also produces two different hormones whose sole purpose resides in glycaemic regulation, remember, the regulating of sugar levels in your blood. The insulin lowers glycemia while glucagon raises it.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing cells (called beta cells) are destroyed by the body’s own antibodies and insulin production plummets and must, therefore, be supplemented by daily injections of the hormone.

In the case of Type 2 Diabetes, beta cells produce insulin normally, or sometimes in insufficient quantity, but above all, cells using insulin develop a form of resistance, meaning the hormone needs to reach higher quantities to be efficient. As a consequence, the body is no longer be able to react to it properly.

In short terms, insulin is not able to function as it should anymore, because at the same time:

  • More insulin is required to regulate glycemia
  • The pancreas produces less insulin

How is Type 2 Diabetes diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis

Upon finding any association of these symptoms, your physician will prescribe different tests:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: a blood sample will measure glycemia. This test has to be taken after fasting since it measures your blood sugar levels and you don’t want its results to be distorted by eating. It would cause a peak in glucose in your bloodstream and it would distort your results.
  • Glucose Tolerance Test: you must first ingest a massive quantity of sugar (75g for adults, that is diluted in water and drunk within 5 minutes). This test forces your body to react to massive ingestion of sugar and consequently reveals potential incapacity to process sugar.
  • Glycated Hemoglobin: sugar can “glycate” hemoglobin (modify it to link it to a glucose molecule). Since this is a long process, this test reveals how long your body has suffered the consequences of hyperglycemia. 

Treatment of Type 2 diabetes

The main treatment of type 2 diabetes is Metformin (trade name Glucophage®. This treatment helps your body regulate glycemia. This molecule forms the first-line treatment and is usually prescribed alone.

Sometimes, in case of an insufficient reduction of the symptoms, another molecule can be associated to reinforce its effects. These medications can include molecules that increase insulin production, block glucagon receptors, or enhance cellular insulin efficiency.

In more advanced cases, insulin injections can also be prescribed to supplement a failing pancreas. This is the method of choice in case of pregnancy.

Prevention of Type 2 diabetes

Since type 2 diabetes is mostly an environmental disease, prevention is focused on reducing disease-inducing factors such as obesity or sedentarism. Therefore, patients suspected to be developing type 2 diabetes are always recommended regular exercise and proper nutrition and can be assisted in this by a nutritionist.

Diets to prevent, treat and reduce Type 2 diabetes

You wanna keep your heart healthy, think about a healthy diet! It will also help you keep your blood sugar levels under control. A diet doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful, here are a couple of tips to help you eat healthily.

The diet recommended for people with Type 2 Diabetes is the very type of diet anybody willing to lead a healthy life should follow:

  • Eat proper meals on schedules, avoid as much as you can snacks, especially when they contain sugar
  • Be careful about what you drink, avoid sugary drinks and soda, which are rich in sugar. Choose tea or water instead.
  • Choose a variety of foods that are high in nutrients and poor in fat and calories
  • Mind the quantity of food you ingest. You don’t need to eat too much, learn to stop when your stomach’s full
  • Pay attention to food labels and read them closely, avoid modified food, avoid ingredients enriched with sugar.
  • Cook more often, and choose fresh fruits and vegetables. You might wanna check a couple of recipes on the net …
  • And please, quit smoking, if you do!

Type 2 diabetes: what can you eat and drink, and what should you avoid?

There are certain foods and beverages that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include:

  • Eat fewer calories, reduce fat foods, which are heavy in saturated or trans
  • Reduce organic food intakes, such as meat or fish, or shellfish
  • Avoid processed meat and snacks
  • Avoid or reduce margarin
  • Limit baked goods, such as bagels, muffins. Better chose whole-bread
  • Reduce your sugar intake, limit sugary drinks, like soft drinks, fruit juices, which contain an enormous amount of sugar
  • Limit your intake of dairy products containing a high level of fat
  • Eat pasta, potatoes, and rice with moderation, and always add a portion of vegetables or fruits to counterbalance their effects.
  • Promote vegetables and fruits, and in general, food containing fibers
  • Avoiding salty food and fried food will also help you keep your diet and your diabetes under control.

Lifestyle tricks to improve your health and reduce Type 2 diabetes risk factors

If your lifestyle needs improvement, tries these few tricks.

Remember that you can keep your blood sugar levels within control with diet and exercise alone.

If you do need to lose weight, dropping a couple of pounds will surely help. Maintaining an average weight is the best way to feel better. It won’t be an easy task, but here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Choose a healthy eating lifestyle: Control your food intake, chose quality products, and limit the size of the portions you eat
  • Exercise more often. We recommend that you get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity, as much as you can. The more often, the better. Try exercising every day. You need to have your heart rate up more often. Why not go on bike rides, walks? You can also choose to go swimming, or doing some Yoga.
  • Do not smoke.

Medication

If your change in lifestyle and eating habits aren’t sufficient, your practice will help you deal with your condition through medications.

Depending on his diagnostic process; you might need to take medication, such as:

  • Metformin. They are the most common medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. They have an impact on lowering the amount of glucose your liver makes. The result should be that your body should respond better to the insulin it produces.
  • Sulfonylureas. These medicines are meant to help your body create more insulin.
  • Meglitinides. They have your body produce more insulin. Their effects are supposed to be felt in a shorter period than sulfonylureas.
  • Thiazolidinediones. Like metformin, these drugs are meant to make you more sensitive to insulin. They only have one counter-effect, as they increase heart problems, so they’re definitely not the first-choice treatment.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors. These medications have an effect on lowering your blood sugar levels, but they might induce joint pain or pancreatic inflammation.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists. They are to be injected with a needle and induce slower digestion and consequently lower blood sugar levels.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors. These have an effect on your kidneys as it helps them filter out more glucose.
  • Insulin. When you are prescribed Insulin, you need to resort to long-lasting shots, even at night sometimes. These meds will most probably be Levemir or insulin glargine (Lantus).
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References:

  1. Types of Diabetes Mellitus 2. Type 2 Diabetes Diet Plan 3. Diabetes: Type 2 4. Type 2 Diabetes Screening and Treatment Guideline 5. Type 2 diabetes Symptoms & causes – Diagnosis & treatment 6. What are the early signs of type 2 diabetes? 7. Diabetes-related conditions 8. Conditions related to Type 2 Diabetes 9. About type 2 diabetes 10. Diagnosing Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes 11. Signs of Type 2 Diabetes 12. A Complete List of Diabetes Medications

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