June 17, 2024
Type 2 Diabetes

Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body metabolizes sugar or glucose. With Type 1 Diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin resistant diabetes is the more common form of the disease. It develops when the body does not produce enough insulin or cells in the body do not properly respond to insulin.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Certain factors increase the risk of developing insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetes. Genetics plays a role – if a close family member has diabetes, you are more likely to develop it as well. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for insulin resistant diabetes. The excess weight places extra stress on the body and contributes to insulin resistance. Other risk factors include older age, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Ethnic backgrounds such as Hispanic/Latino, African American, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander are also at higher risk.

Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

The classic symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet and slow-healing sores. However, many people have no obvious symptoms, especially in the early stages. This can be dangerous because the lack of symptoms can delay diagnosis and treatment. Damage to nerves (neuropathy) and blood vessels (angiopathy) may not show signs for years. Routine blood tests are important for higher risk individuals to check blood glucose levels and catch diabetes early.

Short Term Complications from Poorly Managed Diabetes

High blood glucose levels over time can severely damage various organs and tissues in the body. Poorly controlled diabetes raises the risk of kidney disease, eye problems, foot complications and skin conditions. High blood sugar may also make infections more difficult to fight off and recover from. Untreated or undiagnosed diabetes ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition where harmful acids called ketones build up in the body, lowering the pH of the blood. This happens when there is not enough insulin for the body’s needs.

Long Term Complications If Left Uncontrolled

Prolonged high blood sugar levels over many years greatly increase the risk of debilitating and life-threatening complications. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for people with diabetes. High glucose levels damage blood vessels and nerves over time, raising the risks of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and lower limb amputations. Diabetes is also the leading cause of new cases of blindness among working age adults due to damage caused by fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Uncontrolled diabetes also increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Nerve damage from diabetes is a major contributing factor in feet and leg amputations.

Treatment and Management of Type 2 Diabetes

Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels through diet, exercise and medication. Losing even a modest amount of weight if overweight, regular physical activity, and following a meal plan focused on consistent carbohydrate intake and healthy choices can significantly improve blood sugar control especially in prediabetes and early stages of insulin resistant diabetes. Oral medications are often prescribed in combination with lifestyle changes to help the body properly use and regulate insulin. Insulin injections may become necessary at later stages when other treatments are no longer sufficient. Regular self-monitoring of blood glucose levels using a home testing kit helps track progress and adjust treatment as needed. Common medications include metformin, DPP-4 inhibitors, GLP-1 receptor agonists, SGLT2 inhibitors, sulfonylureas and others. Strict control of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels is important to reduce cardiovascular risk. Routine eye, foot and kidney screening is recommended.

The Importance of Self-Care and Support

A key part of successful diabetes management is making healthy choices a priority on a daily basis. Eating healthy portion-controlled meals, staying active, keeping medications organized, tracking blood sugar and A1C levels as directed by the healthcare provider, stress management and getting adequate sleep. Education and support from diabetes educators, dietitians, providers and patient advocacy groups helps reinforce skills and coping strategies. Having a good support system of family and friends who understand the challenges of diabetes can ease stress and encourage positive healthy behaviors. With proper treatment and self-care, people with Type 2 diabetes can manage the condition well and reduce serious health risks. Early diagnosis and taking an active role in care are critical to enjoying optimal health and quality of life long term.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public Source, Desk Research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.