Type 2 Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Bangalore Diabetes Centre & Diagnostic Lab
Kalyan nagar, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Most people have heard of a relative of theirs having the condition called diabetes, or as it is more colloquially known in India, “Sugar.” We are going to discuss a little bit about diabetes and go more into detail on one of the most common types of diabetes; Type 2 Diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disorder in which the body is unable to handle glucose; a type of sugar in the blood that is an important compound when it comes to producing energy. The condition occurs if the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin or if the body suddenly becomes unable to make use of insulin.
The body cells of a patient with diabetes are unable to metabolise blood sugar for energy. Such a condition occurs when the cells don’t react to insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating the blood sugar. Insulin is responsible for helping the blood absorb glucose from the food we eat, thus aiding in the production of energy. The glucose is a by-product of carbohydrates that have been broken down.
When there is either low production of insulin or if the body becomes insensitive to the hormone, then it messes with the blood sugar level, thus leading to abnormal blood sugar levels in the body.
Abnormal blood sugar level mostly is increased glucose in the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperglycemia. It is important to keep your blood sugar in check; otherwise, over a long time, this could lead to damage in the body and failure of multiple organs and tissues.
Types of diabetes
Diabetes can be classified into three types based on the cause of abnormal blood sugar levels. They are;
Type 1 Diabetes: In this type of diabetes, the body produces very little or no amount of insulin. If there is no insulin, the body cannot regulate its blood sugar. This condition is mainly seen among kids and adolescents. A patient with Type 1 diabetes usually depends on insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels.
Type 2 Diabetes: This is one of the most common forms of diabetes. It mainly affects adults. The body of a patient with this condition does not make use of the insulin produced. The best way to prevent the occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes is by practising a healthy lifestyle; that includes healthy food along with the increased physical activity. And if you are a patient, follow the same, and it will help you keep the condition in control. Another way to manage this condition is by taking oral medications as well as insulin to regulate the blood sugar level.
Gestational diabetes (GDM): This is a type of diabetes that occurs when there is high blood glucose during pregnancy. This condition could cause complications with both mother and child. Gestational diabetes usually ceases once you give birth. But women and children affected are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Since this is the most common form of diabetes, we are going to discuss it a little in-depth.
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body refuses to react to insulin. The patient has developed a kind of resistance to the hormone.
This form of diabetes is most common among adults, i.e. middle-aged people or older, which is why it is also referred to as adult-onset diabetes though it could develop among children and teens if they suffer from childhood obesity.
There is a condition called prediabetes, with similar causes as Type 2 Diabetes, where the blood sugar level isn’t high enough to be considered diabetes but abnormally high.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
The main cause of Type 2 Diabetes is a sudden development that leads to the patient building resistance towards insulin, or in some cases if the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether.
Unfortunately, the reason behind this unwanted development is still being researched, and no proper answers have been found yet. But scientists do attribute factors such as genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle followed such as inactivity, unhealthy diet, being overweight, etc.
When the body builds resistance towards insulin, it no longer makes efficient use of the hormone. Since the body isn't using any insulin, the pancreas works overtime, trying to produce more insulin that can help regulate the sugar levels. But, this overtime put in by the pancreas brings extreme damage to it, which leads to loss of function. This means that with time, the pancreas will stop producing insulin altogether.
The danger to such a situation is that with no insulin, there is no way to regulate blood sugar level. This leads to a build-up of glucose levels in the blood, which are not broken down to produce energy, leaving the rest of the body cells starved of energy.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Initially, when the disease is just beginning to develop, you may notice the following symptoms.
A constant feeling of hunger
Low energy levels
Loss of weight
Feeling a lot more thirsty than usual
Dryness in the mouth
Skin feels itchy
Vision is blurred
As the disease completely develops, the severity of the symptoms increases, and the condition becomes more critical. With time the symptoms manifest as follows;
Cuts and sores take time to heal.
Presence of dark patches on the skin
Numbness, tingling or weakness in different parts of the body; also called neuropathy
Chances of a heart attack in women
Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes
The most common test used to diagnose diabetes is the Glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test. A1C is basically haemoglobin in the blood cells that are coated with sugar, or glycated. This is a type of blood test that shows the average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. A healthy person’s blood sugar level must be at 5 %, while a prediabetic patient will have between 5.7 and 6.4 per cent A1C levels in the blood. If the A1C level is higher than or equal to 6.5 per cent in two separate tests, then the indication is that you have diabetes.
There are cases when a patient cannot take the A1C test, For example, if he or she has an uncommon form of haemoglobin that interferes with the test, or if the test isn't available. In such cases, the following tests help diagnose Type 2 DIabetes.
Random Blood Sugar Test: This test is taken without taking regard to when the patient last ate. Usually, blood sugar is measured in milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL). If the test reads that the blood has 200 or more than 200 mg/dL, then you may be considered diabetic. This diagnosis can be further confirmed by checking for other symptoms such as extreme thirst or frequent urination.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test: The patient is made to fast overnight, after which a blood sample is taken and tested. If the blood sugar level is under 100 mg/dL, the patient is considered healthy, while having 100 to 125mg/dL indicates prediabetes. If the levels are higher than 125 mg/dL, then the patient will be diagnosed with diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This is another common test used to diagnose diabetes. In this test, the patient is made to fast overnight and then consume a liquid that is rich in sugar. Following which, the patient’s blood sugar levels are tested for the next two hours over periodic intervals. In the case of this test, normal blood sugar levels are supposed to be 140 mg/dL, and prediabetic patients’ sugar levels are between 140 to 149 mg/dL. If the blood sugar level is 200 mg/dL or higher after two hours, then it indicates diabetes.
It is wise to have your blood tested routinely if you are above the age of 45 and have risk factors such as being overweight, having heart diseases, history of gestational diabetes, unhealthy lifestyle, high blood pressure, or history of diabetes in the family. If the results are borderline, insist for a follow-up test.
Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition. But the disease and its symptoms can be managed in the following ways.
The condition can be managed by implementing a healthy diet that is balanced. Decrease the consumption of bad carbs that are basically food containing refined sugar, refined wheat, animal products, etc. Eat a high fibre, low-fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
A common cause of diabetes is overweight. Exercise regularly and keep your body fit. Especially indulge in aerobic exercises.
Diabetes can be managed by taking diabetes medication or subjecting to insulin therapy. In some cases, the doctors prescribe a combination of medications and insulin.
Constantly monitor blood sugar levels every now and then. If you are someone who takes insulin, monitors the levels several times a day.
Bariatric surgery: THis is a surgery that helps with weight loss. It is mainly recommended for Type 2 Diabetes patients who have a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than 35. Depending on how the procedure was done, the patient's blood sugar may return to normal.
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