Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus type 2) is a metabolic disorder which is characterised by high blood sugar, resistance to insulin, and a relative lack of insulin. When an individual has this disease, the body is not efficient in converting the carbohydrates found in food to energy. The result is a build up of sugar in the blood which in turn results in increased risk of heart disease, blindness, nerve and organ damage, and other serious health conditions. Type 2 diabetes affects individuals of all ages and sizes and the early symptoms are not always easy to identify. 1 in 3 people with type 2 diabetes are unaware that they are affected by the disease.
What are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
More often than not, individuals are unaware of the fact that they have type 2 diabetes. The onset of symptoms is usually very slow and they can take years to manifest themselves. When they do show, they usually start with the individual experiencing a dry mouth and being thirsty. The individual may also have a bigger appetite than usual resulting in rapid weight gain or they may need to go to the toilet frequently.
As the diabetes develops and the blood sugar levels become more unstable, an individual may begin to experience blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue. Advanced diabetes may exhibit more serious health problems such as the slow healing of cuts and sores, frequent yeast or urinary tract infections, and itchy skin (especially in the area of the groin). Furthermore, diabetes can affect the sexual function of an individual as it can damage the nerve vessels in the genital area. In women, diabetes can cause vaginal dryness which can result in it being difficult to have an orgasm. And 35% to 70% of men will experience some form of impotence.
Lifestyle Changes Help Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Certain lifestyle changes can help an individual to reduce their risk of experiencing Type 2 Diabetes. These include:
- Lose weight, especially around the waist and mid-section
- Get some exercise and give up the couch potato lifestyle
- Improve cholesterol and reduce triglycerides
- Stop smoking
- Eat proper nutrition and reduce the amount of meat and dairy produce consumed
Some Risk Factors are Beyond Control
Certain risk factors are out of your control. These include:
- Age: If you are over 45 you are at a greater risk of being diabetic
- Race: Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian, and Native Americans are at a higher risk of being diabetic
- Family History: If you have a family history of diabetes it is likely that you will be of higher risk
If you are female, you are also more likely to develop diabetes if:
- You gave birth to a child which weighed over 4 Kg
- You had polycystic ovary syndrome
- You had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant
How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Type 2 Diabetes your doctor will take a sample of your fasted blood and do an A1c test which will allow them to determine you average 2-3 month blood glucose level. Your doctor may also check your current blood glucose level.