Diabetes mellitus type 2
The latest statistical reports from worldwide, reputable health organizations are identifying diabetes mellitus as a chronic disease that has alarming data. In the United States, 1.7 million people are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 2 which is also called type 2 diabetes. This disorder of the pancreas can be deadly, but prevention and management are realistic and attainable.
Definition & Facts
The food we eat turns into glucose also known as blood sugar. Glucose is also made and stored in the liver and muscles. Our bodies use glucose as a principal source of energy. The pancreas has the function of making a hormone known as insulin to transfer glucose to our blood cells. The lack of insulin or the poor performance of insulin in our body causes blood sugar to reach high levels. Type 2 diabetes is the result of having high or excess blood sugar in our body’s cells.
Symptoms & Complaints
- Increased thirst which leads to frequent urination
- Depletion of energy which turns into increased hunger
- If losing weight cannot be explained through intentional diet and exercise, weight loss is another symptom.
- Since blood sugar is not being transferred to body cells correctly, fatigue and irritability also become a problem.
- Blurred vision and the inability to focus can be identified as the fifth symptom of high blood sugar.
- Difficulty of resisting infections and the healing of sores or wounds.
- Appearance of darkened skin in the folds or creases of armpits and neck.
Scientists agree that multiple components play a part in the development and progression of diabetes. The inefficient use of insulin, which is referred to as insulin resistance, obesity, and lack of physical activity are labeled as the main causes of Type 2 diabetes. Medical research also shows that a person’s genes may also contribute to the possibility of someone becoming diabetic.
Certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes and medical studies are being done to further identify gene combinations and variances. Most chronic diseases involve certain risk factors and for Type 2 diabetes some of the factors include:
- Age 45 or older
- Overweight or obesity
- Lack of physical activity
- High blood pressure
- High triglyceride levels and high cholesterol levels
- History of parent and siblings with diabetes
- History of cardiovascular disease
Diagnosis & Tests
If the symptoms or risk factors for Type 2 diabetes exist, a diagnosis of diabetes can be confirmed by drawing blood for laboratory tests. Even if there are no symptoms, a blood test can diagnose diabetes. Finger-stick monitors cannot give a true diagnosis but they can show high levels of blood sugar. The three most widely and accepted tests that healthcare providers rely on are the A1C test, the FPG test and the OGTT test.
The A1C test has been recommended since 2009 to diagnose Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. This blood test measures how much glucose is coated on hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Even though our red blood cells die and regenerate, they live for approximately 3 months. The A1C test reflects the amount of glucose for the past 3 months and is reported as a percentage. The higher the number, the higher the glucose in the bloodstream. Normal glucose levels are 5.6 percent and lower.
The FPG test – fasting plasma glucose test is the traditional test administered to detect Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. This test is less expensive than the A1C test but it requires the patient to fast at least eight hours prior to the blood draw. A result of 126 mg/dl or higher indicates the presence of diabetes.
The OGTT test – oral glucose tolerance test is more sensitive than the FPG test but it is a little more difficult to administer because of fasting requirements. After the patient abstains from food for 2 hours and drinks a liquid containing glucose, a test result of 200 mg/dl or higher shows that a person is diabetic.
Treatment & Therapy
There is no cure for diabetes but management through healthy eating habits and frequent physical activity is the best action plan for anyone who is diabetic. Meals should always include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and very limited amounts of sweets, refined carbohydrates and animal proteins. The idea behind diabetic meals is not about deprivation but about choosing foods that will provide fiber and nutrients. Exercise will become a habit once desirable results are seen in blood sugar testing and there is an overall feeling of wellness.
Sometimes diabetic patients require medication even though their best efforts have been made to eat healthy and exercise. If a physician sees that a patient will benefit from medication, drugs to improve the sensitivity to insulin will be prescribed. Insulin therapy, by injection or via insulin pump, is also an option for treating diabetes.
Prevention & Prophylaxis