Type 2 Diabetes Overview
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition where the body cannot produce enough insulin or is unable to properly use the insulin that it does make. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that enables the body to use the glucose that it gets from the carbohydrates. The body either uses that glucose for energy, or it stores it for later use. If the body isn’t able to produce or use the insulin that it makes, the glucose stays in the blood and is not used for energy. The body is then forced to get rid of the glucose in your body through urine. If left undetected or untreated, diabetes can become progressively worse.
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Some of the Type 2 diabetes symptoms to look out for include the following:
It is common for people with diabetes to always feel hungry, even if they have just eaten. This feeling of hunger occurs because the body is not getting enough energy from the food that is consumed. Since the body is not producing enough (or any) insulin, the glucose in the carbohydrates consumed remains in the blood instead of being used for energy.
Increased Frequency of Urination
When your blood glucose levels are elevated, your kidneys attempt to remove the glucose from your blood through your urine. Since the body is over-loaded with glucose, your kidneys will continue to work to filter it out of your blood through your urine. This results in an increased need to urinate, particularly at night.
Your kidneys need water to continue filtering the excess glucose from your blood and out of your body. The increased frequency of urination can result in an increase in thirst and even dehydration.
Having excess sugar in your urine and blood is the perfect breeding environment for yeast. An overgrowth of yeast can lead to a yeast infection. Symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, burning during urination, redness, etc.
Those with Type 2 diabetes may feel tired or sluggish. These feelings are likely due to the body’s inability to use the glucose in the food you eat effectively.
The two primary causes of type 2 diabetes are lifestyle and genetics.
Lifestyle plays a significant role in a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Those who do not exercise regularly, are overweight/obese, and do not make healthy food choices are at a higher risk.
Genetics also play a role in a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. If either of your parents were diagnosed with diabetes, there is a higher chance of you developing it too. Having a parent or parents who were diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t automatically mean that you will eventually be diagnosed as well. If you make an effort to make good lifestyle choices, your chances of developing diabetes are minimized.
When treating diabetes, the main goal is to ensure that blood glucose levels are managed and within an acceptable range. The ideal treatment for those with Type 2 diabetes is diet and exercise. However, if these lifestyle changes do not make a significant change in your blood glucose levels, medication may be required.
The medication prescribed for Type 2 diabetes is dependent on your unique health circumstances. According to the Mayo Clinic website, some of the regularly prescribed medication include the following:
- Metformin – Metformin is usually the first medication prescribed in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. This medication works by reducing the amount of glucose your liver produces.
- Sulfonylureas – Sulfonylureas works by stimulating your pancreas to secrete more insulin.
- Meglitinides – Similar to sulfonylureas, Meglitinides stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin. The difference between the two medications is that meglitinides are fast-acting.
- Thiazolidinediones – Thiazolidinediones help insulin work better by making the body’s tissues more sensitive to it.
- DPP-4 inhibitors – DPP-4 inhibitors help lower your blood glucose levels without making it drop too low. The effect that these types of medication are usually modest.
- GLP-1 receptor agonists – These injectable medications work by slowing digestion down to help lower blood glucose levels.
Diet plays a vital role in the management of Type 2 diabetes. It is critical to understand how different foods can affect your blood glucose levels. The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that ranks various carbohydrate foods based on how much they affect your blood glucose levels. If a particular food is high on the GI scale, it should be avoided, as these foods can cause a quick spike in your glucose levels. Some acceptable low glycemic index foods include the following:
- Sourdough bread
- Sweet Potato
- Almond milk
- Greek Yogurt
The Diabetes Canada website has a comprehensive list of foods that are low, medium, and high on the glycemic index scale. Read our detailed guide on How to Choose and Use a Glucose Meter?
It is not yet fully understood why some people develop Type 2 diabetes. However, other known factors increase the risk of developing this disease. Some of these factors include the following:
- High blood pressure
It is crucial to take an active role in your health after a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet may help manage some of your symptoms. Be sure to speak to your doctor or medical professional if you have questions about your diet or any medication that may have been prescribed to you.