What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar is high. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps move the sugar from your blood into your cells to be used for energy.
Types of Diabetes
Three major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes: Increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue and blurred vision. In some cases, there may be no symptoms.
Type 1 diabetes: Increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue and blurred vision.
Gestational diabetes: There are no symptoms. A blood sugar test during pregnancy is used for diagnosis.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
- In type 2 diabetes your body isn’t able to effectively use insulin to bring glucose into your cells. This causes your body to rely on alternative energy sources in your tissues, muscles, and organs. This is a chain reaction that can cause a variety of symptoms.
- Type 2 diabetes can develop slowly. The symptoms may be mild and easy to dismiss at first.
- In type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells aren’t able to respond to insulin as well as they should. In later stages of the disease your body may also not produce enough insulin.
- Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar levels, causing several symptoms and potentially leading to serious complications.
The early symptoms may include:
- dry mouth
- itchy skin
- constant hunger
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
- weight loss
- blurry vision
- a lack of energy
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and potentially dangerous.
If your blood sugar levels have been high for a long time, the symptoms can include:
- foot pain
- yeast infections
- dark patches on your skin
- slow-healing cuts or sores
- feelings of numbness in your extremities, or neuropathy
- If you have two or more of these symptoms, you should see your doctor. Without
- treatment, diabetes can become life-threatening.
Diabetes has a powerful effect on your heart. Women with diabetes are twice as likely to have another heart attack after the first one. They’re at quadruple the risk of heart failure when compared to women without diabetes. Diabetes can also lead to complications during pregnancy.
Diet for type 2 diabetes
Diet is an important tool to keep your heart healthy and blood sugar levels within a safe and healthy range. It doesn’t have to be complicated or unpleasant. The diet recommended for people with type 2 diabetes is the same diet just about everyone should follow. It boils down to a few key actions:
- Eat meals and snacks on schedule.
- Choose a variety of foods that are high in nutrition and low in empty calories.
- Be careful not to overeat.
- Read food labels closely.
- Foods to choose
- Healthy carbohydrates can provide you with fiber.
The options include:
vegetables, fruits, legumes, such as beans, whole grains Foods with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids include:
You can get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from a number of foods, including:
- olive oil
- canola oil
- peanut oil
Although these options for fat are good for you, they’re high in calories. Moderation is key. When choosing dairy products, choose low-fat options.
Foods to avoid
There are certain foods that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include:
- foods heavy in trans fats
- processed meats
- high-fat dairy products
- organ meats, such as beef or liver
- sugary drinks
- foods heavy in saturated fats
- stick margarine
- fried foods
- salty foods
- baked goods
- processed snacks
Type 2 diabetes Treatment
You can effectively manage type 2 diabetes. Your doctor will tell you how often you should check your blood glucose levels. The goal is to stay within a specific range. Not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs to use insulin. If you do, it’s because your pancreas isn’t making enough insulin on its own. It’s crucial that you take insulin as directed. There are other prescription medications that may help as well.
Follow these tips to manage type 2 diabetes:
- Include foods rich in fiber and healthy carbohydrates in your diet. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep your blood glucose levels steady.
- Eat at regular intervals, Exercise helps to control blood glucose.
- Only eat until you’re full, Get about half an hour of aerobic activity daily to help keep your heart healthy.
- Control your weight and keep your heart healthy. That means keeping refined carbohydrates, sweets, and animal fats to a minimum.
Your doctor will also help you learn which foods are healthy and which foods aren’t and will explain how to recognize the early symptoms of blood sugar that’s too high or too low and what to do in each situation.
Causes of type 2 diabetes
Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone. Your pancreas produces it and releases it when you eat. Insulin helps transport sugar from your bloodstream to cells throughout your body, where it’s used for energy.
If you don’t produce enough insulin or if your body doesn’t use it efficiently, glucose builds up in your bloodstream. This leaves your body’s cells starved for energy.
Doctors don’t know exactly what triggers this series of events.It may have to do with cell dysfunction in the pancreas or with cell signaling and regulation. In some people, the liver produces too much glucose. There may be a genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin. Your body is no longer using the hormone efficiently. This forces your pancreas to work harder to make more insulin. Over time, this can damage cells in your pancreas. Eventually, your pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin.
There’s also a genetic predisposition to obesity, which increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. There could also be an environmental trigger.
Most likely, it’s a combination of factors that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Research into the causes of type 2 diabetes is ongoing.
Medications for type 2 diabetes
In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to keep type 2 diabetes under control. If not, there are several medications that may help. Some of these medications are:
- meglitinides or glinides, which are fast-acting, short-duration medications that stimulate your pancreas to release more insulin
- metformin, which can lower your blood sugar levels and improve how your body responds to insulin
- dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, which are milder medications that help reduce blood sugar levels
- sulfonylureas, which help your body make more insulin
- glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, which slow digestion and improve blood sugar levels
- thiazolidinediones, which make your body more sensitive to insulin
- sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors, which help prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into the blood and sending it out in your urine
- Each of these medications can cause side effects. It may take some time to find the best medication or combination of medications to treat your diabetes.
If your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are a problem, you may need medications to address those needs as well.
If your body can’t make enough insulin, you may need insulin therapy. You may only need a long-acting injection you can take at night or you may need to take insulin several times per day.
Type 2 diabetes in children
Type 2 diabetes in children is a growing problem. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 208,000 Americans under age 20 have diabetes.
The reasons for this are complex, but risk factors include:
- being born to a mother who had diabetes while she was pregnant
- being overweight, or having a body mass index above the 85th percentile
- having a sedentary lifestyle
- having a birth weight of 9 pounds or more
- being American Indian, Alaska Native, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, or Pacific Islander
- having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children include:
- frequent infections
- sores that are slow to heal
- excessive thirst
- blurry vision
- increased urination
- excessive hunger
- areas of darkened skin
See your child’s doctor immediately if your child has symptoms of diabetes. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications.
If your child’s doctor diagnoses them with diabetes, your doctor will need to determine if it’s type 1 or type 2 before suggesting a specific treatment.
A random blood sugar test may reveal high blood sugar levels.
A hemoglobin A1C test can provide more information about average blood sugar levels over a few months. Your child may also need a fasting blood sugar test.
You can help lower your child’s risk by encouraging them to eat well and to be physically active every day.
Type 2 diabetes Risk factors
We may not understand the exact causes of type 2 diabetes, but we do know that certain factors can put you at increased risk.
Certain factors are out of your control:
- You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, but your risk increases as you get older. Your risk is particularly high after age 45.
- Your risk is greater if you have a brother, sister, or parent who has type 2 diabetes.
- Women who have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome are at increased risk.
- African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and American Indians are at higher risk than Caucasians.
You may be able to change these factors:
- Your risk increases if you have a sedentary lifestyle. Regular exercise uses up glucose and helps your cells respond better to insulin.
- Being overweight means that you have more fatty tissue, which makes your cells more resistant to insulin. Extra fat in the abdomen increases your risk more than extra fat in the hips and thighs.
- You’re also at increased risk if you’ve had gestational diabetes or if you have prediabetes.
- Eating a lot of junk foods or eating too much wreaks havoc on your blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes prevention
You can’t always prevent type 2 diabetes. There’s nothing you can do about your genetics, ethnicity, or age.
If you have prediabetes or other diabetes risk factors and even if you don’t, a few lifestyle tweaks can help delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. These changes in diet, exercise, and weight management work together to help keep your blood sugar levels within the ideal range all day long:
Diet: Your diet should be high in nutrient-rich carbohydrates and fiber. You also need heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from certain kinds of fish and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Dairy products should be low in fat. It’s not only what you eat, but also how much you eat that matters. You should be careful about portion sizes and try to eat meals at about the same time every day.
Weight management: You’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting daily exercise should help you keep your weight under control. If those changes aren’t working, your doctor can make some recommendations for losing weight safely.
Exercise: Type 2 diabetes is associated with inactivity. Getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day can improve your overall health. Try to add in extra movement throughout the day, too.
Diagnosing type 2 diabetes
Whether or not you have prediabetes, you should see your doctor right away if you have the symptoms of diabetes. Your doctor can get a lot of information from blood work. Diagnostic testing may include the following:
A hemoglobin A1C test is also called a glycosylated hemoglobin test. It measures average blood glucose levels for the previous two or three months. You don’t need to fast for this test, and your doctor can diagnose you based on the results.
You need to fast for eight hours before having a fasting plasma glucose test. This test measures how much glucose is in your plasma.
During an oral glucose tolerance test, your blood is drawn before and two hours after you drink a dose of glucose. The test results show how well your body deals with glucose before and after the drink.
If you have diabetes, your doctor will provide you with information about how to manage the disease, including:
how to monitor blood glucose levels on your own
- dietary recommendations
- You may need to see an endocrinologist who specializes in the treatment of diabetes.
- You’ll probably need to visit your doctor more often at first to make sure your treatment plan is working.
- information about any medications that you need
- physical activity recommendations
Type 2 diabetes Complications
For many people, type 2 diabetes can be effectively managed. It can affect virtually all your organs and lead to serious complications, including:
- hearing impairment
- retinal damage, or retinopathy, and eye damage, which can cause deteriorating vision, glaucoma, and cataracts
- skin problems, such as bacterial or fungal infections
- nerve damage, or neuropathy, which can cause a loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in your extremities as well as digestive issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation
- poor circulation to the feet, which makes it hard for your feet to heal when you have a cut or an infection and can also lead to gangrene and loss of the foot or leg
- cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, angina, heart attack, and stroke
- kidney damage and kidney failure
Hyperglycemia can happen when blood sugar is high. It’s typically characterized by frequent urination and increased thirst. Exercising can help lower your blood sugar level
Hypoglycemia can occur when your blood sugar is low. The symptoms can include shakiness, dizziness, and difficulty speaking. You can usually remedy this by having a “quick-fix” food or drink, such as fruit juice, a soft drink, or a hard candy.
Complications during and after pregnancy
If you have diabetes while you’re pregnant, you’ll need to monitor your condition carefully. Diabetes that’s poorly controlled can:
- complicate labor and delivery
- cause your baby to gain too much weight
- increase your baby’s risk of developing diabetes during their lifetime
- harm your baby’s developing organs