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Type 2 Diabetes

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Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that causes high levels of sugar in the blood stream. There are two types of diabetes; type 1 diabetes also called as insulin-dependent diabetes and the other one is type 2 diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes. We shall concentrate more on type 2 diabetes symptoms, causes and its management.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes affects adults over the age of 40. It is a chronic condition where the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. It can even happen that the body cannot process the insulin produced by the pancreas. Thus, the sugar in the blood is not processed into glucose that can be easily absorbed  by the cells. The sugar levels keep increasing in the blood leading to diabetes.

If the problem is not corrected soon, it can lead to damage of nerves and blood vessels of many organs within the body. Excess sugar can lead to dehydration as the body tries to get rid of it through frequent urination. When the blood sugar levels are too high, it can lead to a serious condition called diabetic coma. This condition can lead to death.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. It tends to develop when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. However, there are certain factors outlined by experts that make a person prone to diabetes. These include:

  • People with high blood pressure
  • Those who live a sedentary or inactive life
  • Excessive worrying or tension
  • Mental health problems can lead to diabetes
  • Obese or over-weight people are more prone to diabetes
  • Smoking and drinking excessive alcohol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Gestational diabetes, in pregnant women

It has been found people with a family history of diabetes are more prone to developing the condition themselves.

What are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops over time. Thus, not many observe the subtle symptoms that indicate diabetes. However, the onset of diabetes is indicated by the following signs:

  • Increase in urination
  • Increase in thirst and hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Itchiness around the genitals
  • Wounds or cuts that heal slowly

It is always wise to get oneself checked for diabetes, especially if they come under the risk group.

Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes

Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is carried out with the help of blood tests. These tests include:

  • Fasting blood glucose test
  • Glucose tolerance test
  • Urine test

Management of Type 2 Diabetes

There is no permanent cure for diabetes. It can only be managed and controlled with proper care. One needs to take care of their diet and keep their sugar intake in control. Carry out light exercise daily to stay healthy and manage body weight. Quit smoking and have an occasional drink.

In some cases, doctors may prescribe medications like metformin, repaglinide, Acarbose, etc. to keep blood glucose levels in check. Some patients may find controlling their diabetes difficult even after having a proper diet and medications. In such cases,they may be asked to take injections like exenatide. These injections help in increasing the production of insulin in the body. Some may be advised insulin injections that need to be taken once or twice a week. Regular blood tests will help monitor blood sugar levels and keep diabetes under check.

Complications Due to Type 2 Diabetes

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When diabetes is not kept under control, it can lead to many life-threatening problems. These complications include:

  • Diabetes can lead to eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy
  • Damage to kidney blood vessels leading to kidney failure
  • One may develop bacterial and fungal infections of the mouth as well as skin
  • Decrease in bone mineral density leading to osteoporosis
  • Decrease in blood flow to the feet due to nerve damage leading cuts and blisters that don’t heal and turn gangrenous
  • Damage to nerves that leads to numbness, tingling, burning sensation in the toes, fingers and affected limbs
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth risk in pregnant women

Prognosis of Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition that needs to be controlled. Those who take the condition lightly and do not control their blood sugar levels develop serious complications. However, those who do control diabetes, can live a healthy, normal life. Lifespan is not affected when blood sugar levels are kept in control.

Maintain your blood pressure and take maximum care of your feet. This will help reduce the risk of complications due to diabetes. Take your medications and insulin injections on time and take regular blood tests. Follow all instructions given by your GP to control diabetes. Exercise, proper diet and a healthy lifestyle will ensure one can live a complication free life, in spite of diabetes.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 4, 2015