Type 2 diabetes

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic ailment which affects the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes happens when the body doesn’t manufacture enough insulin to regulate glucose levels and can also be caused by the insulin working incorrectly. If there is limited insulin or the insulin does not work properly, the body will not be able to regulate the levels of glucose in the blood and the levels will be too high.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

The exact cause of diabetes is unknown but type 2 diabetes is often linked with lifestyle factors, and a multitude of risks for the disease have been identified. These include:

  • Carrying excess weight, particularly if you have a big waist (over 31.5 inches for women, over 35 inches for Asian men and over 37 inches for black or white men)
  • Family history - you have an augmented risk of having the condition if you have a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • Ethnicity - if you are of Middle-Eastern, South Asian or African-Caribbean descent, you have an increased likelihood of having diabetes
  • Age - your chances of developing type 2 diabetes increases as you get older
  • High blood pressure
  • Having a heart attack or stroke

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are usually general and develop slowly. As a result many people do not see their doctor for a long time and many people in the UK have diabetes without even realising.

Symptoms include:

  • Having an unquenchable thirst
  • Urinating frequently, especially during the night
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability

Treating type 2 diabetes

Diabetes cannot be cured but it can be managed very effectively if you follow the guidance of your care team and take medication as advised. In most cases the first stage of the treatment process will involve addressing lifestyle issues. If you are overweight, for example, you will be recommended to try and lose weight by doing more exercise and adapting your diet. Losing weight will have a positive effect on your blood pressure and decrease your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, which are also risk factors for diabetes. Changing your lifestyle may be enough to keep your blood sugar levels at a stable, safe level but if this is not the case medication may be required.

Additional treatment

Medicines can be prescribed to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin injections may also be used. Medication is used to control the level of glucose in the blood, which will prevent symptoms and enable the body to function effectively. Insulin may also be injected to control sugar levels.

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