We took a look at type 1 diabetes in a previous column. Now, I would like to focus on type 2 diabetes and how the two differ.
Type 1 diabetes is linked to an autoimmune disorder, while type 2 diabetes is linked to diet, weight and a lack of exercise. Type 2 diabetes also develops over time and oftentimes individuals may not even know they have type 2 diabetes. In January, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) published the national statistics for diabetes and reported that there are 18.8 million diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes and 79 million people have prediabetes. Another 7 million have undiagnosed diabetes.
Generally, type 2 diabetes is seen in people over the age of 40, but we have been seeing a rise in children getting type 2 diabetes. Again, researchers believe this is a direct link to childhood obesity and a lack of physical activity among young people.
According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), people who have type 2 diabetes experience an abnormally high level of blood glucose. The pancreas may or may not be able to produce insulin, but even if it does, the cells of the body have become resistant to the insulin. Therefore, the body cannot use the glucose properly. Eventually, the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for insulin, but the body remains starved for energy and the blood glucose levels rise.
There are signs that you can look for to detect type 2 diabetes:
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst
- Unusual weight loss
- Extreme fatigue and irritability
- Frequent infections
- Blurred vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling/numbness in the hands and feet
- Reoccurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
These symptoms can be associated with other medical conditions so it’s best to seek professional help from your physician if you suspect you might be at risk for diabetes.
There are people who have a higher risk for developing diabetes. If you have high blood pressure, eat a poor diet, get little or no exercise, or are overweight or obese, you could be on the path to developing diabetes. Researchers have also indicated that certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk for diabetes.
The ADA has a quick diabetes test that you can take to see what your risk level is for developing diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association reported that you can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight and exercising regularly. The association also indicated that some weight loss and exercise can improve blood glucose levels, possibly reducing the amount of damage type 2 diabetes has on the body. Many people are able to manage their diabetes with diet, exercise, weight loss, and proper monitoring by a physician.
Harvard researchers estimate that 90 percent of type 2 diabetes cases could have been prevented with proper diet, weight management and exercise. This is good news because for most people it puts you in the driver’s seat in your own life. You can make good choices now that can help you avoid dealing with diabetes in the future.
See also: What Do You Know About Type 1 Diabetes?