What is Type 2 Diabetes: A Better Understanding for Better Living
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 90% and 95% of all cases and with more than 34 million Americans currently living with diabetes that’s a lot of people. Additionally, there are some 88 million people in the United States currently classified as prediabetic and the vast majority of these individuals, around 84%, are not aware that they face a severe risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The CDC also points out some other rather sobering statistics. Over the past 20 years the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the United States as the population has aged and as America battles a growing problem with obesity. Additionally, medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high those who do not have the disease.
Type 2 diabetes impacts a tremendous amount of people and by all indications the number will almost certainly continue to grow. So, what exactly is this disease?
What is Type 2 Diabetes
In the simplest terms, Type 2 diabetes means that the body does not use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that moves blood sugar, or glucose, from the blood into the cells, where it is used as energy.
In someone with Type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells can’t respond to insulin effectively, which means a large quantity of blood sugar cannot not move into the cells. Instead, this blood sugar builds up in the bloodstream, raising glucose levels beyond normal and safe amounts. Once this occurs, a person has developed Type 2 diabetes.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it’s important to adhere to the diabetes care plan developed by your diabetes physician and team. We invite you to save on all the diabetic supplies and equipment your plan calls for at Diabetic Warehouse. Shop and save up to 65% on our complete selection of glucose meters, test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), and infusion sets by leading manufacturers such as FreeStyle, One Touch, Easy Comfort, Medtronic and Accu-Chek. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, we also offer diabetic starter kits that bundle everything you need at savings of up to 30% over purchasing individually.
Risk Factors Contributing to Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is caused by both lifestyle and genetic factors. Which means there are some things you can control and some things that are simply out of your hands.
You’re far more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or obese. Extra body fat, particularly in the belly area, is linked to insulin resistance which can speed the onset of Type 2 diabetes, not to mention, contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure and other health concerns.
It’s only logical that people who are inactive tend to put on weight, which in turn contributes to Type 2 diabetes.
Once again, a healthy diet directly correlates to a healthy weight. Additionally, some foods raise blood sugar levels more than others. These include processed foods, sugar items, and carbohydrates, which all contribute to the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
If Type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you may be more likely to develop it. In many cases this may also be due to common lifestyle factors among family members, such as inactivity and diet.
Type 2 diabetes occurs more often in these racial and ethnic groups: African American, Alaskan Native, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
How Do You Know If You Have Type 2 Diabetes?
One of the dangers of Type 2 diabetes is that the condition leading up to Type 2 diabetes, known as prediabetes, rarely has any noticeable symptoms. In fact, many people who are already in the early stages of Type 2 diabetes have no idea they have the disease.
Blood sugar levels often rise very gradually, sometimes over the course of several years. So, the symptoms, if there are any at all, tend to be extremely mild and are usually shrugged off as no big deal. It’s often not until someone experiences the more pronounced symptoms of Type 2 diabetes that it becomes clear there is a problem.
The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:
– Unusually strong and persistent thirst
– Increased feelings of hunger
– Numbness or tingling in the feet and hands
– Unexplained weight loss
– Slow healing of sores and cuts
– Blurry vision
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately and inquire about testing for Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends routine diabetic screenings for adults aged 45 and over, women who have had gestational diabetes, anyone who has been diagnosed with prediabetes, and children who are overweight or obese and who have a family history of the disease.
Testing for Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed accurately using simple blood tests. The most common is called an A1C test, which measures average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. An A1C test is measured in percentages with the following interpretations:
– Below 5.7% is normal
– 5.7% to 6.4% is considered prediabetic
– Get 6.5% or higher on two separate tests and you have diabetes
You doctor may also conduct a “fasting blood sugar test” in which a blood sample is taken after you have fasted overnight. Less common is a test called an “oral glucose tolerance test’ in which you drink a sugary liquid, and your blood sugar levels are tested at different times over the following two hours.
You can learn more about these tests at the Mayo Clinic website.
The point is, finding out if you have diabetes is easy. Your doctor can diagnose you from a simple blood test and this is the first step toward learning how to effectively treat and live with the disease.
The Dangers of Type 2 Diabetes
Once you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, it is absolutely imperative that you take the necessary steps to control and manage it. Left unchecked, Type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of serious health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), eye problems, stroke and even death.
On the bright side, there are many things you can do to manage and minimize Type 2 diabetes. In fact, if there is one good thing about Type 2 diabetes, it’s that you have a great deal of influence in how effectively you treat it and control it.
Get Ready to Make Some Lifestyle Changes
If you do have Type 2 diabetes, your diabetes doctor - usually a specialist called an endocrinologist – will work with you to develop a care and treatment plan. Everybody is affected by diabetes differently, so it’s especially important to create a personal diabetes health program.
That being said, your doctor and care team are most certainly going to ask you to make some important lifestyle changes, primarily in two areas - what you eat and how often you are active. What specific recommendations you’ll be given depends on your diabetes diagnosis and general health at that time. However, here is a good idea of what you can expect:
It’s particularly important for people living with Type 2 diabetes to limit sugars and refined carbohydrates in their diet and replace them with low-glycemic choices such as whole grains and fibers. Your doctor will also likely recommend lean meats, fish and poultry for protein, as well as keeping dairy to low-fat varieties. There are many helpful secrets to a healthy diabetes diet that you are sure to learn about, including the “diabetes plate method” recommended by the America Diabetes Association (ADA)
Movement is another key part of managing Type 2 diabetes. Relax, you don’t have to run a marathon or train like a professional athlete. In fact, that’s not a good idea at all if you’ve been recently diagnosed. Your doctor and care team will recommend a safe, reasonable, and effective activity plan to start your routine, whether that’s a nice walk, a short jog, a little aqua aerobics, or a bike ride. You don’t want to go overboard. About 30 minutes of aerobic activity will go a long way to helping you manage blood sugar levels and improve overall health.
Something else important happens with you change your diet and add a little more activity to your day - you lose weight! This is a tremendous advantage for anyone living with Type 2 diabetes, as it can help slow or even halt the disease’s progress.
Will I Need Insulin with Type 2 Diabetes?
The answer to this question has everything to do with your specific diabetes diagnoses, blood sugar levels, blood sugar fluctuation range, and how well you stick to and respond to lifestyle and dietary changes.
Historically, over 30% of people with Type 2 diabetes require some form of insulin therapy. If you are one of them, your doctor will recommend the proper delivery system, most likely insulin syringes or pen needles, and provide you with the correct dosage and insulin type. Some people with diabetes only need one form of insulin, while others are required to mix insulin for optimal blood sugar control. Regardless, you will have to test your glucose levels regularly, most likely using a glucose meter and test strips. Or your doctor might recommend a continuous glucose monitoring system which measures blood sugar in real time throughout the day.
There are also new medications on the market today that can reduce the dependence on insulin. Plus, don’t forget about those lifestyle changes we mentioned earlier - diet, activity, and weight loss – are incredibly beneficial to managing blood sugar levels and controlling Type 2 diabetes, including how much insulin therapy you might require.
Most people living with diabetes have the Type 2 form of the disease. It’s a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening complications if not effectively managed. However, if you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes there is real reason for optimism because you have the power to do things that can lessen the severity of the disease, and even delay or prevent the need for insulin and other medications.
You have a voice in how you live with Type 2 diabetes. You can make a difference and with the support and guidance of your doctor and care team there is no reason you shouldn’t succeed. As always, listen to your doctor’s instructions, follow your individual diabetes treatment plan, and do the things you can do to life a happier and healthier life with Type 2 diabetes.
If you found this post helpful, we hope you’ll check out our other posts about living with diabetes. At diabetic warehouse, we’re committed to keeping you informed about your care and treatment options. We’re also proud to offer savings of up to 65% on diabetic supplies from leading manufacturers, including FreeStyle, Clever Choice, Bayer, Accu-Chek, One Touch, and True Metrix. We invite you to shop and save on our entire selection at Diabetic Warehouse.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.