What is type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a disease also known as type 2 diabetes. The disease is characterised by permanently high blood sugar levels. The high blood sugar levels are caused by a lack of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is a hormone which helps the body’s cells absorb the sugar from the blood, so the blood sugar is kept stabile throughout the day. Besides the lack of insulin, the disease is also characterised by a reduced effect of insulin on muscle and fatty tissue. This condition is called insulin resistance. As opposed to type 1 diabetes, which is often diagnosed during childhood, type 2 diabetes often develops after the age of 40, and the average age at the time of the diagnosis is 55. Type 2 diabetes accounts for roughly 90 % of all diabetes cases worldwide. The number of type 2 diabetics has risen in recent years, and around 7 million people are diagnosed each year.
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes does not always show symptoms at an early stage. The symptoms might therefore be quite vague, including:
- Having no energy, feeling off-colour
Later on, when the amount and effect of insulin decreases further, you might experience:
- Urinating more than normal
- Weight loss
- Genital itchiness or fungal infections
- Loss of consciousness (Rare)
- Blurred vision
- Sensory disturbances
What are the causes of type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a result of both insulin resistance and a lack of insulin. Often the development of the disease is a direct result of lifestyle and genetics. Being overweight, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet all contribute to the development of the disease, as they all affect the amount of insulin produced and how it affects the body’s cells.
Genetics play a minor role in the development of type 2 diabetes compared to type 1 diabetes, but if both parents have type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing the disease is increased by 80 %. The most crucial factor, however, is lifestyle, as this factor determines whether the genetic predispositions are manifested.
How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?
If the doctor suspects that you have diabetes, he or she will examine your blood pressure and heart as well as the appearance and tactile sense of the feet. Blood sugar measurements are used to make the diagnosis. After a period of fasting, for instance between lunch and dinner, the ideal blood sugar level is below 7 mmol/L. If the levels are any higher on two separate days, the doctor will diagnose you with diabetes. Another way of diagnosing is to measure the long-term blood sugar levels using the HbA1c value. This value reveals the blood sugar over the past two months. This value should ideally be below 52 mmol/L if you are under the age of 80, and below 75 mmol/L if you are more than 80 years old.
To avoid complications like damage to the kidneys, nerves, eyes, heart, brain and blood vessels, the blood sugar levels should be closely monitored and regulated. It is recommended that the blood sugar regulation is managed by the patient. The guidelines concerning ideal blood sugar levels depend on the patient’s age.
What are the treatments for type 2 diabetes?
For the regulation of the blood sugar, there are several options. The combination of dietary changes and weight loss have proven an efficient treatment of type 2 diabetes. It is recommended that the diet contains whole grains, unsaturated fats and plenty of vegetables. In addition, it is recommended to reduce the overall calorie intake to lose weight. It is beneficial to exercise more as well, as physical activity helps reduce the blood sugar. It is also recommended to stop smoking.
Several medical treatments are available to treat type 2 diabetes, but most treatment plans include daily insulin injections. Most cases of type 2 diabetes are however treatable by means of a healthy varied diet, weight loss and exercise every day.