ABOUT TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. For many people (but not all) it can be prevented through following a healthy lifestyle.
While type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed and people with type 2 diabetes can and do live active and healthy lives.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to keep blood glucose (sugar) levels in the normal range. Everyone needs some glucose in their blood, but if it’s too high it can damage your body over time.
In type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body don’t recognise the insulin that is present. The end result is the same: high levels of glucose in your blood.
For many people (but not all) type 2 diabetes can be prevented by making healthy food choices and staying active.
There is a clear link between type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) and / or disordered levels of fats (cholesterol) in the blood (the medical name for this is dyslipidaemia). This combination of diabetes with hypertension and dyslipidaemia is sometimes called ‘the Metabolic Syndrome’ or Syndrome X.
When does type 2 diabetes normally occur?
Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in adulthood usually after the ages of 30 – 40 years. However, increasing numbers of teenagers and children are developing type 2 diabetes.
Who is most likely to develop type 2 diabetes?
Some groups of people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes:
- European 40 years of age or older
- Diabetes in your family (grandparents, parents, brothers or sisters)
- Maori, Asian, Middle Eastern or Pacific Island descent aged 30 years or older
- High blood pressure
- Overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your waist)
- Diagnosed as having pre-diabetes (also known as impaired glucose tolerance) – this occurs when the glucose (sugar) in your blood is higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
You may have had type 2 diabetes for many years without realising it. Not everyone has symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- Feeling tired and lacking energy
- Feeling thirsty
- Going to the toilet often
- Getting infections frequently
- Getting infections which are hard to heal
- Poor eyesight or blurred vision
- Often feeling hungry
- If you have any of the above symptoms, discuss these with your doctor.
Diabetes is diagnosed by blood tests which can be organised through your doctor. If you are very unwell you should seek medical assistance immediately.
Does type 2 diabetes run in families?
If you have a blood relative with type 2 diabetes you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes yourself. However type 2 diabetes sometimes occurs in people who have no one in their family with the condition.
Is type 2 diabetes curable?
In people with type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood. But with good management, your blood glucose levels may go down to normal again. But this does not mean you are cured. Instead, a blood glucose level in your target range shows that your treatment plan is working and that you are taking care of your diabetes.
How do I start treating and managing my type 2 diabetes?
In a nutshell: some people with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their diabetes through diet and exercise, or by taking tablet medication. However, eventually many people with type 2 will manage their diabetes with insulin as well.
Your doctor will advise you on what treatment is best for you, but whatever this may be, healthy food choices and staying active is important. The goal is to lower your blood glucose and improve your body’s use of insulin. This is achieved through:
- A healthy diet
- Weight loss
The focus of your food choices and regular exercise is to achieve and maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Losing weight helps your body use insulin better.
You may also have to take medication. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition. This means that over time you will gradually produce less and less insulin. Although you may be able to manage your blood glucose levels in the healthy range by eating healthy food and having regular exercise for a number of years, most people come to need tablets or insulin as well as their food and exercise plan.
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