Type 2 Diabetes
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or to properly use, insulin. It used to be called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).
Without enough insulin, the body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. It is a chronic disease that has no known cure. It is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for 90-95 percent of diabetes cases.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. However, there does appear to be a genetic factor which causes it to run in families. And, although a person can inherit a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, it usually takes another factor, such as obesity, to bring on the disease.
Prevention or delay of onset of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed by following a program to eliminate or reduce risk factors -- particularly losing weight and increasing exercise. Information gathered by the Diabetes Prevention Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association, continues to study this possibility.
What are the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
The following are the most common symptoms for type 2 diabetes, however, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
Diabetes may have a variety of signs and symptoms, including:
- Frequent infections that are not easily healed
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger but loss of weight
- Unusual thirst
- Blurred vision
- Extreme weakness and tiredness
- Irritability and mood changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- High levels of sugar in the blood when tested
- High levels of sugar in the urine when tested
- Dry, itchy skin
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet
Some people who have type 2 diabetes exhibit no symptoms. Symptoms may be mild and almost unnoticeable, or easy to confuse with signs of aging. Half of all Americans who have diabetes do not know it.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult your physician for a diagnosis.
What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Age - people over the age of 45 are at higher risk
- Family history of diabetes
- Being a member of certain racial and ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans
- History of gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds
- A low level HDL (high density lipoprotein -- the "good cholesterol")
- A high triglyceride level
Treatment for type 2 diabetes
Specific treatment will be determined by your physician(s) based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the disease
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
The goal of treatment is to keep blood-sugar levels as close to normal as possible. Emphasis is on control of blood sugar (glucose) by monitoring the levels, regular physical activity, meal planning, and routine health care. Treatment of diabetes is an ongoing process of management and education that includes not only the person with diabetes, but also health care professionals and family members.
Often type 2 diabetes can be controlled through losing weight, improved nutrition, and exercise alone, but sometimes these are not enough and either oral medications and/or insulin must be used. Treatment often includes:
- Proper diet
- Weight control
- An appropriate exercise program
- Proper hygiene
- Insulin replacement therapy (under the direction of a physician)
Untreated or inappropriately-treated diabetes can cause problems with the kidneys, legs, feet, eyes, heart, nerves, and blood flow, which could lead to kidney failure, gangrene, amputation, blindness, or stroke. For these reasons, it is important to be on a strict treatment plan.