What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes happens when your body can't use insulin the right way. Over time, the pancreas can't make enough insulin, a hormone that helps the body's cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra sugar in muscle, fat, and liver cells. Without insulin, this sugar can't get into your cells to do its work. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood sugar level then gets too high.
High blood sugar can harm many parts of the body, including the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. It can also increase your risk for other health problems.
Type 2 diabetes is different from type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, so that over time the body can't produce insulin at all. In type 2 diabetes, the body still makes some insulin, but it can't use it the right way.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Some people don’t have symptoms, especially when diagnosed early. This is because the blood sugar level may rise so slowly that a person may not know that anything is wrong.
The most common symptoms of high blood sugar include:
- Feeling very thirsty
- Urinating more often than usual
- Feeling very hungry
- Having blurred vision
You can get high blood sugar for many reasons, including not taking your diabetes medicines, eating more than usual (especially sweets), not exercising or being sick or under a lot of stress.
If you're taking diabetes medicine, you can also have problems with low blood sugar.
These symptoms include:
- Feeling weak
- Feeling shaky
- Feeling very hungry
Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes
If a doctor suspects you have type 2 diabetes, he or she will ask questions about your medical history, conduct a physical exam and test your blood sugar.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes
The key to treating type 2 diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels controlled and in your target range.
Testing your blood sugar regularly is essential to help understand how your body reacts.
This can be achieved by:
- Making healthy food choices, for example, managing the amount of carbohydrates you eat by spreading them out over the day.
- Losing weight, if you are overweight
- Quitting smoking
- Getting regular exercise
- Taking medicine, as needed