Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes used to be called non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it makes. Without enough insulin, your body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream and high blood levels of sugar can cause problems.
The most common type of diabetes, type 2, affects approximately 15 million Americans. Although it can occur at any age, it usually occurs in people over age 45 and those who are overweight, among other factors.
Although the exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown, we do know it runs in families. A person can inherit a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, but it usually takes another factor, such as obesity, for the disease to materialize.
You are at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are over age 40.
- Do not exercise regularly.
- Are overweight.
- Have a family history of diabetes.
- Have low HDL or high triglyceride level (blood fat levels).
- Are of a certain racial and ethnic group (e.g., African American, Hispanic American, Asian and Pacific Islander, or Native American).
- Are a woman who has had gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes occurring in 4 percent of all pregnancies, or who has had a baby weighing nine pounds or more at birth.
Signs and Symptoms
Type 2 diabetes often develops slowly. Some signs and symptoms are:
- Increased thirst
- Increased need to urinate
- Feeling edgy, tired or moody
- Increased appetite, but losing weight
- Having repeated or hard-to-heal infections of the skin, gums, vagina or bladder
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet
- Dry, itchy skin
These symptoms can be so mild that they go unnoticed. Older people may confuse these symptoms with signs of aging and may not go to their healthcare practitioner. Half of all Americans who have diabetes may not know it.
Often, people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.
Living with Diabetes
The key to living a healthy life with diabetes is to follow your diabetes treatment plan. The goal of this plan is to have good blood-sugar control, keeping your blood-sugar level as close to normal as possible.
Your first step is to see your healthcare practitioner. You will be prescribed a daily treatment plan. The plan should include a healthy diet and regular exercise. You can often control type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise alone.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for people with type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can help some overweight people bring their blood sugars into the normal range.
Your healthcare practitioner may also want you to test your blood-sugar levels regularly. Testing will let you know if your diabetes is in control. Be sure to ask how to do these tests.