June 16, 2024
Type 2 Diabetes

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is it?

Type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin resistant diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. It develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. In insulin resistant diabetes, blood sugar levels become too high.

Causes of Insulin Resistant Diabetes

While the exact cause of insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetes is unknown, certain factors contribute to the development of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency:

Genetics: Having a family history of diabetes increases your risk. Certain genes influence how the body metabolizes insulin.

Being Overweight: Excess body weight, especially around the waist, increases the risk for insulin resistant diabetes. Extra fat tissue surrounding internal organs impairs the body’s ability to use insulin effectively.

Lack of Exercise: Not getting enough physical activity increases diabetes risk. Exercise helps the body use insulin more efficiently and manage blood sugar levels.

Improper Diet: Eating a diet high in calories from fat and sugar but low in fiber can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance over time. Processed foods tend to have a high glycemic load and impact blood sugar levels significantly.

Aging: The risk increases as you get older, especially after age 45. Along with aging comes decreases in muscle and metabolic changes that reduce insulin sensitivity.

Other Factors: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and excess alcohol consumption can also contribute to insulin resistance and insulin resistant diabetes. Certain ethnic groups are at higher risk as well.

Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Not everyone with insulin resistant diabetes experiences symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. However, some common signs and symptoms that may develop include:

– Increased thirst and urination
– Fatigue
– Blurred vision
– Slow healing sores or frequent infections
– Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
– Unexplained weight loss
– Increased hunger and appetite
– Irritability and mood changes

If left untreated, high blood sugar levels can damage organs and blood vessels over time, potentially leading to serious health complications. Symptoms are usually more pronounced when blood sugar levels are dangerously high.

Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

To diagnose insulin resistant diabetes, doctors will perform one or more of the following medical tests:

– A1C Test: Measures average blood sugar levels over 3 months. An A1C of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes.

– Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Test: Blood sugar tested after not eating for 8 hours. A level of 126 mg/dl or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.

– Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: Blood sugar tested after drinking a sugary beverage. Levels of 200 mg/dl or higher after 2 hours indicate probable diabetes.

Left untreated, high blood sugar levels can lead to more frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, and other issues. Prompt diagnosis allows treatment to begin as soon as possible.

Treatment and Management of Type 2 Diabetes

While insulin resistant diabetes currently has no cure, several effective treatment options exist to manage blood sugar levels. The main goals of diabetes treatment are:

– Maintain overall health and well-being

– Achieve target blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels

– Prevent complications over time with good control

Treatment typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes, oral medications, and possibly insulin therapy. Work with your doctor to develop a customized plan based on your needs, health history, and treatment goals. Lifestyle modifications are key for insulin resistant diabetes management. These include:

– Healthy Diet: Focus on fruits/veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Limit saturated fats and added sugars.

– Weight Management: Lose excess pounds if overweight through calorie reduction and increased activity. Even modest weight loss can help manage blood sugars.

– Regular Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes most days. Physical activity lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity.

– Blood Sugar Monitoring: Testing your glucose levels helps evaluate your individual treatment plan’s effectiveness.

– Managing Stress: High stress levels can negatively impact blood sugar control. Try relaxation techniques as needed.

In addition to lifestyle strategies, oral diabetes medications such as metformin, sulfonylureas, DPP-4 inhibitors and others may be prescribed to help lower blood glucose levels. For some cases where oral medications are insufficient, insulin therapy is needed to supplement the body’s natural insulin production. Lifelong monitoring and management of insulin resistant diabetes is important to prevent complications. With treatment, most people can achieve good blood sugar control and quality of life.

Complications of Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes

Sustained high blood sugar levels over time, if left untreated or poorly controlled, increases the risk of developing serious long-term complications affecting many parts of the body. These may include:

– Eye Disease: Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness due to damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Timely treatment with laser therapy or surgery can help prevent vision loss.

– Kidney Disease: Diabetic nephropathy results in damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure without intervention.

– Nerve Damage: Diabetic neuropathy often first appears as pain or numbness in the feet or hands due to nerve damage in both motor and sensory fibers.

– Foot Problems: Poor circulation and nerve damage increases susceptibility to foot ulcers, infection, and possible amputation. Proper foot care habits are vital for prevention.

– Heart Disease and Stroke: Diabetics have a higher risk of heart attack, chest pain (angina), and stroke from accelerated atherosclerosis due to years of high blood sugar and other cardiac risk factors.

– Dental Disease: Periodontitis, gum disease, and tooth loss occur more frequently in uncontrolled diabetes sufferers due to impaired immune response and vascular supply to oral tissues.

– Skin Infections: Minor cuts, sores or infections may develop difficulties healing in diabetes and possibly become chronic skin ulcers.

Practicing diligent self-care, monitoring blood sugar levels, taking medications as prescribed, and working closely with your healthcare team can effectively manage insulin resistant diabetes and significantly lower complication risk over the long run. Early detection and active treatment are important goals.