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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which sugar, or glucose, builds up in your blood. Insulin insulin helps move sugar from your blood into your cells, which is where the sugar is used for energy.

In type 2 diabetes, your body's cells cannot respond to insulin as well as they should. In the later stages of the disease, your body may also not produce enough insulin.

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar, causing a number of symptoms and potentially serious complications.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, your body cannot effectively use insulin to get glucose into 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 wide range of symptoms. Type 2 diabetes can develop slowly. Symptoms can be mild and easy to get rid of at first.

Early symptoms may include:

  • constantly hungry

  • lack of energy

  • tired

  • weight loss

  • thirsty

  • frequent urination

  • Dry mouth

  • itchy skin

  • blurry vision

As the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe and potentially dangerous.

If your blood sugar is high for a long time, symptoms may include:

  • Yeast infection

  • slow-healing cuts

  • dark patches on your skin

  • footsore

  • numbness in 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 a heart attack after the first. They are four times more likely to have heart failure than women without diabetes. Diabetes can also lead to complications during pregnancy.

Diet for type 2 diabetes

Diet is an important tool for keeping your heart healthy and blood sugar within a safe and healthy range. It doesn't have to be complicated or annoying. The recommended diet for people with type 2 diabetes is the same diet everyone should follow. It captures several key actions:

  • Eat scheduled meals and snacks.

  • Choose a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories.

  • Be careful not to eat too much.

  • Read food labels closely.

Food to choose from

Healthy carbohydrates can give you fiber. Options include:

  • vegetable

  • fruit

  • legumes, such as beans

  • cereals

Foods with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • tuna

  • pilchard

  • salmon

  • mackerel

  • halibut

  • snow fish

You can get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from a number of foods, including:

  • olive oil

  • canola oil

  • peanuts

  • almonds

  • Pecan

  • Walnuts

  • butter

While these fat options are good for you, they are high in calories. Moderation is key. When choosing dairy products, choose a low-fat option.

Foods to avoid

There are certain foods that you should limit or avoid altogether. Including:

  • foods heavy in saturated fat

  • trans fat heavy foods

  • beef

  • processed meat

  • shellfish

  • organ meats, such as beef or liver

  • stick margarine

  • shortening (fat mixed into crispy sponge cake)

  • barbecue

  • processed snacks

  • sugary drinks

  • high-fat dairy products

  • Salty foods

  • fried food

Talk to your doctor about your personal nutritional and calorie goals. Together, you can come up with a diet plan that tastes great and fits your lifestyle needs.

Treatment of type 2 diabetes

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.

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 blood sugar levels stable.

  • Eat regularly

  • Eat only until you are full.

  • Control your weight and keep your heart healthy. That means keeping refined carbohydrates, sweets and animal fats to a minimum.

  • Get about half an hour of aerobic activity daily to keep your heart healthy. Exercise also helps control blood sugar.

Your doctor will explain how to recognize the early symptoms of too high or too low blood sugar and what to do in each situation. Your doctor will also help you learn which foods are healthy and which are not.

Not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs to use insulin. If you do, it's because your pancreas isn't producing enough insulin on its own. It is important that you take your insulin as directed. There are other prescription medications that can also help.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

Insulin is a natural 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 is used for energy.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin. Your body is no longer using the hormone effectively. This forces your pancreas to work harder to make more insulin. Over time, this can damage the cells in your pancreas. Eventually, your pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin.

If you don't produce enough insulin or if your body doesn't use it efficiently, glucose builds up in the blood. This leaves your body's cells with a lack of energy.

Doctors don't know exactly what causes this sequence of events.

It may have to do with cellular 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.

There is also a genetic predisposition to obesity, which increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. There may also be an environment trigger.

Most likely, it's a combination of factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Research into the causes of type 2 diabetes is ongoing.

Drugs for type 2 diabetes

In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to control type 2 diabetes. If not, there are a number of medications that can help. Some of these drugs are:

  • metformin, which can lower your blood sugar and improve the way your body responds to insulin

  • sulfonylureas, which help your body make more insulin

  • meglitinides or glinides, which are fast-acting, short-lived drugs that stimulate your pancreas to release more insulin

  • thiazolidinediones, which make your body more sensitive to insulin

  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, which are milder medications that help lower blood sugar

  • Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, slow digestion and improve blood sugar đường

  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors, which help prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into the bloodstream and sending it through the urine

Each of these drugs can cause side effects. It can take some time to find the best medication or combination of drugs to treat your diabetes.

If your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are an issue, you may need medication to address those needs.

If your body can't make enough insulin, you may need insulin treatment. You may only need long-acting injections that 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, about 208,000 Americans under the age of 20 have diabetes.

The reasons for this are complex, but risk factors include:

  • overweight, or have a body mass index above the 85th percentile

  • have a birth weight of 9 pounds or more

  • was born to a mother with diabetes during pregnancy

  • have a close member with type 2 diabetes

  • lead a sedentary lifestyle

  • are Indian-American, Alaska Native, African-American, Asian-American, Latino, or Pacific Islander

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children include:

  • thirsty

  • excessively hungry

  • urinating a lot

  • slow-healing sores

  • frequent infections

  • tired

  • blurry vision

  • dark skin

See your child's doctor right away if your child has symptoms of diabetes. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications.

A random blood sugar test can show high blood sugar. 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.

If your child's doctor diagnoses them with diabetes, your doctor will need to determine if it's type 1 or type 2 before recommending a specific treatment.

You can help reduce your child's risk by encouraging them to eat well and be physically active every day.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

We may not understand the exact cause of type 2 diabetes, but we do know that a number of factors can put you at high risk.

Some factors are beyond your control:

  • Your risk is greater if you have a brother, sister, or parent with type 2 diabetes.

  • You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, but your risk increases as you get older. Your risk is especially high after age 45.

  • African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Indian Americans are at higher risk than whites.

Women with a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome are at higher risk.

You can change these elements:

  • Being overweight means you have more fatty tissue, which makes your cells more resistant to insulin. Excess belly fat increases your risk more than excess hip and thigh fat.

  • Your risk increases if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. Regular exercise uses up glucose and helps your cells respond better to insulin.

  • Eating too much junk food or eating too much wreaks havoc on your blood sugar.

You are also at higher risk if you have gestational diabetes or if you have prediabetes.

Tips for how to prevent type 2 diabetes

You can't always prevent type 2 diabetes. There's nothing you can do about genetics, ethnicity, or age.

If you have prediabetes or other diabetes risk factors and even if you don't, a few lifestyle adjustments can help delay or even prevent the onset of type diabetes. 2. Changes in diet, exercise, and weight management work together to help keep your blood sugar within an ideal range throughout the day:


Your diet should be high in nutrient-rich carbohydrates and fiber. You also need heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from certain fish and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Dairy products should be low in fat. It's not just what you eat, but how much you eat. You should be careful about portion sizes and try to eat meals at the same time each day.

Do exercise

Type 2 diabetes is associated with inactivity. Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day can improve your overall health. Try to add in extra movement throughout the day, too.

Weight Management

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are overweight. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising daily will help you manage your weight. If those changes don't work, your doctor can make some recommendations for safe weight loss.

Received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes

Whether you have prediabetes or not, you should see your doctor right away if you have symptoms of diabetes. Your doctor can get a lot of information from blood work. Diagnostic tests may include the following:

  • A hemoglobin A1c test is also called a glycosylated hemoglobin test. It measures the average blood glucose level over the previous two or three months. You do not need to fast for this test and your doctor can diagnose you based on the results.

  • You need to fast for eight hours before a fasting plasma glucose test. This test measures the amount of glucose in your blood plasma.

  • In an oral glucose tolerance test, your blood is drawn before and two hours after you take a dose of glucose. Test results show how well your body copes with glucose before and after taking it.

If you have diabetes, your doctor will give you information on how to manage it, including:

  • How to self-monitor your blood sugar

  • Diet recommendations

  • Recommended physical activity

  • information about any medicine you need

You may need to see an endocrinologist who specializes in the treatment of diabetes. You may need to visit your doctor more often at first to make sure your treatment plan is working.

Complications associated with type 2 diabetes

For many people, type 2 diabetes can be effectively managed. It can affect virtually all of your organs and lead to serious complications, including:

  • skin problems, such as bacterial or fungal infections

  • nerve damage, or neuropathy, which can cause loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the extremities as well as digestive problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation

  • poor circulation to the feet, which makes it difficult for your feet to heal when you have a cut or infection and can also lead to gangrene and loss of the foot or leg

  • deaf

  • retinal damage, or retinopathy and damage to the eye, which can cause vision impairment, glaucoma, and cataracts

  • cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, angina, heart attacks and strokes tim

  • kidney damage and kidney failure


Hypoglycemia can happen when your blood sugar is low. Symptoms may include tremors, dizziness, and difficulty speaking. You can usually fix this by having a quick fix food or drink, such as juice, soft drinks, or hard candy.

Increased blood sugar

Hyperglycemia can occur when blood sugar is high. It is usually characterized by frequent urination and increased thirst. Exercise can help lower your blood sugar levels.

Complications during and after pregnancy

If you have diabetes while you are pregnant, you will need to monitor your condition carefully. Poorly controlled diabetes can:

  • complicate labor and delivery

  • harm the baby's developing organs

  • causing the baby to gain too much weight

  • increased risk of diabetes throughout the life of the baby.

Statistics on type 2 diabetes

The following statistics report on diabetes in the United States:US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • More than 29 million people have diabetes. That's 9.3 percent of the population.

  • One in four people don't know they have diabetes.

  • More than a third of adults have diabetes, and 15 to 30 percent of them will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

  • Non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians, including Alaska Natives, are twice as likely to develop diabetes in adults as Hispanic whites.

The American Diabetes Association reports the following statistics:

  • In 2012, diabetes cost the United States $245 billion in direct medical costs and reduced productivity.

  • Average medical costs for people with diabetes are about 2.3 times higher than without diabetes.

  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, either the underlying cause of death or the leading cause of death.

The following statistical reports: World Health Organization

  • The global prevalence of diabetes in 2014 was about 9% for adults.

  • About 90 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

  • Diabetes caused about 1.5 million deaths worldwide in 2012.

  • About half of people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.

  • Diabetes is also a leading cause of kidney failure.

Managing type 2 diabetes

Managing type 2 diabetes requires teamwork. You will need to work closely with your doctor, but a lot of the results depend on your actions.

Your doctor may want to perform periodic blood tests to determine your blood sugar. This will help determine how well you are managing the disease. If you take medication, these tests will help gauge how well it's working.

Because diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, your doctor will also monitor your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. If you have symptoms of heart disease, you may need additional testing. These tests may include an electrocardiogram or cardiac stress test.

Follow these tips to help manage your diabetes:

  • Maintain a high-carbohydrate diet rich in nutrients and fiber but low in unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates.

  • Daily exercise.

  • Take all of your medications as recommended.

  • Use a home monitoring system to check your blood sugar between visits to your doctor. Your doctor will tell you how often you should do it and what your target range should be.

It can also be helpful to get your family in the loop. Educate them about the warning signs of too high or too low blood sugar so they can help in an emergency. If everyone in your home follows a healthy diet and engages in physical activity, you will benefit.

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