Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Sometimes referred to as a "lifestyle disease", the incidence of this form of diabetes continues to grow - and not just in adults, but more and more commonly in children and teens too. What causes even more concern is that many people are undiagnosed diabetics. Millions of people are unaware that they have type 2 diabetes, whether it's from lack of access to healthcare, or simply not being tested, or some other reason.
In type 2 diabetics, the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or is unable to use the insulin properly. Insulin is vital to the body as it allows the body to use glucose for energy.
The body works to break down all of the sugars found in food into glucose. It is the insulin's job to take sugar from the blood and transport it into the body's cells. As glucose builds up in the blood as opposed to in the cells, there are a couple of problems that can arise.
First, the cells will immediately be starved for energy. This makes it difficult for the body to create enough energy to make it through the day. Over time, you may start to notice signs of Type 2 Diabetes - also called adult-onset diabetes (many people develop a condition known as insulin resistance, before beginning to show symptoms of being diabetic). Continued high blood glucose levels can eventually have a negative affect on your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart. Diabetics are also at risk for both very high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and for very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), both of which can cause additional health problems.
What causes diabetes? There are many factors and causes that can lead to type 2 diabetes. These can include being overweight, a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and genetics play a role too. However, "adult-onset" diabetes can be prevented or delayed for many people if steps are taken immediately to change the parts of their lifestyle that is contributing to their risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Learning that you are diabetic can be a scary moment. While it is a serious condition, it is important to understand that you can still live a long, happy and healthy life.
In order to be as healthy as possible, the development of a diabetes treatment plan should be created promptly with the help of a diabetes educator. Typically, the first kind of treatment consists of meal planning for blood glucose control (including managing "carbs", or carbohydrates), weight loss, and exercising. Many tasty diabetic recipes are available and, in consultation with a dietitian, you can enjoy nutritious foods that help you feel your best.
As important as a proper diet and regular exercise are for diabetics, in some people they are still not enough to normalize blood glucose levels. In these cases, medication may be required to lower the blood sugar levels. There are several different kinds of medications available. It is important you consult a doctor and decide on the right medication for your individual situation.
In some cases a healthy diet and exercise will be enough so that you don't need to turn to insulin (many people find a diet based on the glycemic index helpful). However, many people may need to go further. Some of the factors to consider whether you should start using insulin include how long you have had diabetes, how high your blood glucose levels are, how well your blood sugar levels are controlled, and what other types of medications you are taking.
It's not necessarily just physical health that's the issue with type 2 diabetes. You may also find you have to deal with irritability, depression, denial and even discrimination. It can no doubt be difficult managing all of these challenges. A diabetes educator, or diabetes support group, can lend a helping hand as well as an understanding ear. Ultimately, it's up to each person to take charge of our own health. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.