Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood. In the past, it was often called adult-onset diabetes, but in recent decades more and more children and teenagers have begun developing the disease.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body can no longer produce enough insulin, or when your body cannot use insulin properly. When you eat, your body converts food into glucose, which is a form of sugar, so that your body can burn it for energy. Insulin is used to move glucose from your blood into your cells, so that it can be available to be used as you need it.
Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance. When you have insulin resistance, your cells don't respond to insulin the way they do in a healthy body. This breakdown in the process means that the glucose remains in your blood instead of being stored in your cells. The level of glucose in your blood can become dangerously high, which can lead to a number of serious health problems over time.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
A predisposition to diabetes type 2 is often passed down through families. Poor lifestyle choices may turn this predisposition into the full-blown disease. However, a lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet and being overweight can also increase your risk of developing diabetes.
As people grow older, they are more likely to develop the disease, even if they lead a healthy lifestyle. Diabetes type 2 can occur even in people who are not overweight, especially if they have a family history of diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
People who have developed diabetes can go a long time without showing any symptoms. This makes it hard to tell if you have the disease.
When diabetes type 2 symptoms begin to show, it can be easy to overlook them. Some early type 2 diabetes symptoms are fatigue, unusual thirst or hunger, increased urination and urinary tract, skin or other infections that recur or are slow to heal.
Unfortunately, because diabetes can damage your body for many years before being diagnosed, the first symptoms you notice may not really be diabetes type 2 symptoms at all; they may actually be symptoms of diabetes complications. These include difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection, blurred vision, or pain or numbness in your hands or feet.
Treatment for diabetes type 2 focuses on two goals: controlling glucose levels and preventing complications. Your doctor will work with you to lower your glucose levels. The most important tools for treating diabetes are diet and exercise. Your doctor will help you to implement an exercise program and may refer you to a dietitian who can help you develop a personalized diabetes diet.
You will also have to learn to test your blood glucose levels regularly. If diet and exercise are not sufficient to keep your glucose levels within acceptable limits, your doctor may prescribe oral medications. You may need to take insulin injections as well.
In any case, meeting with your doctor is the first step to understanding more about type 2 diabetes and what you can do to treat it. Although there is no cure, you can still maintain an active lifestyle despite the lifelong nature of the condition.