What is Type 2 Diabetes and Can I Prevent It?

By Elana B. Multi award-winning writer, advertiser, speaker and internationally published author

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Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.

Insulin resistance is partly genetic. But there are other important contributors. One of the most important contributing factors was found by researchers using special scanning techniques. Looking into the cells of people with insulin resistance, they found tiny particles of fat. These fat particles are especially common in muscle cells. Fat particles in cells interfere with insulin’s ability to open the cell membrane and allow glucose inside. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:
• Your cells may be starved for energy very quickly
• Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/DIABETES/pubs/tcyd/index.htm) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Who is at risk for type 2 diabetes?

    • Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders; however, it can affect people of both sexes, as well people over 45 years of age.
    • Despite that there is slightly more of an occurrence in the aforementioned; type 2 diabetes can affect anyone; that is why it is important to see your doctor regularly and to be knowledgeable about the warning signs and symptoms.Blood sugar levels – blood glucose levels
    • Blood glucose or blood sugar is an essential to your health. Blood sugar or blood glucose refers to sugar that is transported through the bloodstream to supply energy to all the cells in our body. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. The human body regulates blood glucose levels so that they are neither too high nor too low which helps maintain a condition of stability in the blood’s internal environment called “homeostasis,” which is necessary for our bodies to function.Signs and symptoms of diabetes
      Like the signs of most illnesses, diabetes symptoms are usually easy to spot but can be confused for other illnesses. One of the most prominent symptoms is an excessive thirst. This symptom is common to both types of diabetes (type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes) and is usually accompanied with frequent urination. There are many signs and symptoms; however, since certain symptoms can be associated with other illnesses, sometimes diabetes is not discovered in the early stages.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
• Excessive thirst
• Increases in appetite
Dry mouth
• Drastic weight fluctuations (can be a symptom).
Fatigue (bouts and throughout the day)
• Blurred vision
• Slow healing wounds
• Frequent urination
• Unexplained weight loss
Headaches and migraines

In general, sufferers of type 1 diabetes battle with these symptoms their entire lives. Type 2 diabetes sufferers generally see a slower onset of some but not all of the symptoms. A medical professional must always be made aware of all symptoms that the sufferer is experiencing so that the appropriate diabetes testing and treatment will be prescribed. Like the symptoms, the treatments for the two types of illness vary so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis.

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Blood glucose test and how it is used
Normally, your blood glucose levels increase slightly after you eat. This increase causes your pancreas to release insulin so that your blood glucose levels do not get too high. Blood glucose levels that remain high over time can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and heart. The following tests may be used for screening and diagnosis of type 1, type 2 or prediabetes. If you are pregnant, your doctor will test you to protect you and your baby. (Gestational diabetes testing is different but important, especially if you have a family history of diabetes).Note: If the initial screening result from one of the tests is abnormal, the test is repeated on another day. The repeated results must also be abnormal to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes.

Types of testing for diabetes
• Fasting glucose (fasting blood glucose, FBG) – this test measures the level of glucose in the blood after fasting for at least 8 hours.
• 2-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT) – for this test, the person has a fasting glucose test done (see above), then drinks a 75-gram glucose drink.
• Another blood sample is drawn 2 hours after the glucose drink. This “challenges” the person’s body to process the glucose. Normally, the blood glucose level rises after the drink and stimulates the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream.
• Insulin allows the glucose to be taken up by cells. As time passes, the blood glucose level is expected to decrease again. When a person is unable to produce enough insulin, or if the body’s cells are resistant to its effects (insulin resistance), then less glucose is transported from the blood into cells and the blood glucose level remains high.
• A test called hemoglobin A1c may be used as an alternative to glucose testing for screening and diagnosis.
• Glucose blood tests are also used to screen pregnant women for gestational diabetes between their 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Glucose testing is also used to test women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes 6-12 weeks after they have delivered their baby to detect persistent diabetes.

How the blood glucose test may be used
• To detect high blood glucose (hyperglycemia) and low blood glucose (hypoglycemia)
• Help diagnose diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes
• Monitor glucose levels in people diagnosed with diabetes
• Screen for diabetes in people who are at risk; in some cases, there may be no early signs or symptoms of diabetes

If you have diabetes a treatment plan will be implemented

    • For the type 2 diabetes sufferer, changes in diet and physical exercise can drastically improve you chances of not suffering from the devastating and even fatal complications that can arise if diabetes is left undetected.
    • The treatment plan will more than likely include smaller and well-planned caloric intake, much higher levels of physical activity and the possible use of medication to help you meet your target blood glucose levels.
    • If insulin is needed, you will need to work closely with your healthcare provider(s) to determine which insulin or insulin’s are best for you and your body.

Nutrition is one of the most important changes that will need to be made. Understanding how different foods affect your blood glucose and learning to develop solid meal plans will be a crucial part of your daily routine. With the correct strategies in place, you can take steps today to monitor your condition, prevent serious complications and feel better while living with diabetes.

How will I know if my treatment is working?

• Getting an A1C test at least twice a year helps you and your health care team keep track of how well you are controlling your blood glucose levels.
• Your A1C check tells you your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. Your health care provider may call this your estimated average glucose or eAG. The eAG gives your A1C in the same units (mg/dl) as the glucose meter you use at home.
• Your blood pressure. Your blood pressure numbers tell you the force of blood inside your blood vessels. When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder.
Cholesterol levels. Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of fat in your blood. One type, low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can clog your blood vessels and lead to heart disease.

 

Consult your doctor before using any health treatment, plan, or activity — including vitamins, herbal supplements and natural remedies. Also, tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications. The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as a substitute for medical advice or counseling.

 


About the author: Elana B. is an award-winning writer, speaker, and internationally published author. As a writer and ghostwriter she has written hundreds of stories from shorts to books to screenplays. As a healthcare enthusiast she has studied nutrition, health and wellness, as well as eating right to live a better life.

A gifted storyteller, Elana B.’s new children’s series, Too Terribly Busy and the “Too Terribly” Series of books, teach in a fun, creative way some of the most important lessons in life. Through this entertaining series of books, children will learn morals, manners, how important it is to achieve goals, as well as conflict resolution. Sneak peek of the first story in the new series: TooTerriblyBusy-SP1.

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