Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, is a metabolic disorder caused by the inability to make enough or properly use insulin. In those who have type 2 diabetes, their fat, liver and muscle cells are resistant to insulin. Insulin regulates the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood and prevents or reduces damage to the blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.
Diabetes affects 25.8 million children and adults in the United States with type 2 being the most common form of diabetes. Even though the exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown, it often has a genetic factor. While you can inherit a tendency to develop the condition, obesity and/or physical inactivity can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include but are not limited to the following:
- Age – Those 45 or older are at a higher risk
- Family history
- Physical inactivity
- Race and ethnicity – African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians are at a higher risk
- History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- A low HDL level
- A high triglyceride level
Each person may experience the symptoms of type 2 diabetes differently. Often, those with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at first and may not for many years. The most common symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Unusual thirst
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet
- High levels of sugar in the blood when tested
- High levels of sugar in the urine when tested
- Frequent urination
- Frequent bladder and skin infections that don’t heal easily
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss despite an increase in appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme weakness and fatigue
- Irritability and mood changes
- Dry, itchy skin
Often, type 2 diabetes can be controlled through weight loss, improved nutrition and exercise alone. However, in some cases these measures are not enough and oral or injected medications are necessary.
Treatment often includes:
- Proper diet
- Weight control
- Exercise program
- Regular foot inspections
- Oral medications or other medications
- Regular monitoring of hemoglobin A1c levels.
To prevent type 2 diabetes, it is important to keep a healthy body weight and an active lifestyle as well as stay up-to-date on your vaccinations.
Often type 2 diabetes is preceded by prediabetes, which means that blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be defined as diabetes. However, many people with prediabetes develop type 2 within 10 years.
If you need to have a blood test to check to see if you have diabetes or if you have been diagnosed and need a primary care doctor to help manage your diabetes, please learn more about our primary care doctors at UAMS.