Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet, Treatment and Complications

It is a chronic medical condition in which levels of sugar or glucose build up in the bloodstream.

The hormone insulin helps transport sugar from the blood into cells, which is where sugar is used for energy.

In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells do not have a normal response to insulin.

In later stages of the disease, the body may not make enough insulin.

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar levels, causing various symptoms and potentially leading to serious complications.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

Insulin is a natural hormone. The pancreas is responsible for producing and releasing it.

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin and no longer uses the hormone efficiently.

This forces the pancreas to work harder to produce more insulin. Over time, this can damage the cells of the pancreas.

If not enough insulin is produced or if the body does not use it efficiently, glucose builds up in the bloodstream.

This leaves the cells of the body starved of energy. Doctors don’t know exactly what triggers this series of events.

It may have to do with cell dysfunction in the pancreas or with cell signaling and regulation. In some people, the liver makes too much glucose.

There may be a genetic predisposition to develop type 2 diabetes.

There may also be a genetic predisposition to obesity, which increases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.

In some cases it is likely to be caused by an environmental trigger. Most likely it is a combination of factors that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Risk factor’s

There are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Certain factors are out of control such as:

  • The risk is higher if you have a family member with type 2 diabetes.
  • You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, but your risk increases as you get older. The risk is particularly high after age 45.
  • African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and American Indians are at higher risk than Caucasians.
  • Women who have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome are at a higher risk.

But there are other factors that can be changed:

Being overweight means you have more fat tissue, which makes your cells more resistant to insulin.

The extra fat in the abdomen increases the risk more than the extra fat in the hips and thighs.

The risk also increases when you have a sedentary lifestyle. Regular exercise causes the body to consume glucose and helps cells respond better to insulin.

Eating habits that include eating a lot of junk food or eating too much, wreak havoc on blood glucose levels.

You are also at higher risk if you have had gestational diabetes or if you have prediabetes.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body cannot use insulin effectively to get glucose into the cells.

This makes your body dependent on alternative energy sources in your tissues, muscles, and organs.

This is a chain reaction that can cause a variety of symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes can develop slowly. Symptoms can be mild and easy to control at first.

The first symptoms may include:

  • Constant hunger
  • Lack of energy.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weightloss.
  • However excesiva.
  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth.
  • Skin itch.
  • Blurry vision.

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and potentially dangerous.

If blood sugar levels have been high for a long time, symptoms may include:

  • Presence of fungal infections.
  • Slow wound healing.
  • Dark spots on the skin.
  • Foot pain
  • Sensations of numbness in the extremities or neuropathy

If you have two or more of these symptoms, you should see your doctor. Without treatment, diabetes can be life-threatening.

Diabetes has a powerful effect on the heart. Women with diabetes are twice as likely to have a repeat heart attack.

They have a four times higher risk of heart failure compared to women without diabetes. Diabetes can also lead to complications during pregnancy.

Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes

Whether you have prediabetes or not, you should see your doctor right away if you have symptoms of diabetes.

The doctor can get a lot of information from tests and blood tests. Diagnostic tests may include the following:

A hemoglobin A1C test is also called a glycated hemoglobin test.

It measures the average levels of glucose in the blood during the previous two to three months.

You do not need to fast for this test, and your doctor can diagnose it based on the results.

The patient must fast for eight hours before undergoing a fasting glucose test. This test measures the amount of glucose present in the plasma.

During an oral glucose tolerance test, your blood is drawn before and two hours after drinking a dose of glucose.

The test results show how well the body handles glucose before and after consuming the drink.

Diet for type 2 diabetes

Diet is an important tool for keeping your heart healthy and your blood sugar levels in a safe and healthy range.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated or unpleasant. The recommended diet for people with type 2 diabetes is the same diet that everyone should follow every day.

This boils down to a few key actions:

  • Eat meals and snacks several times a day.
  • Choose a variety of foods that are high in nutritional content and low in empty calories.
  • Avoid overeating.
  • Pay attention to the labels that show the content of processed foods.

Foods that contain healthy carbohydrates can provide fiber. These options include:

  • Vegetables.
  • Fruits.
  • Legumes, such as beans.
  • Whole grains

Heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid foods include:

  • Tuna.
  • Sardines
  • Salmon.
  • Mackerel.
  • Fletan.
  • Cod.

Healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be obtained from a number of foods, including:

  • Olive oil.
  • Canola accepted.
  • Peanut oil.
  • Almonds
  • Pecans.
  • Walnuts.
  • Avocados

Although these fat options are good for the diet, they are high in calories. Moderation in the consumption of these foods is the key.

When choosing dairy products, look for low-fat options.

There are certain foods that should be limited or avoided altogether. These include:

  • Foods high in saturated fat.
  • Foods high in trans fat.
  • Beef.
  • Processed meats
  • Seafood.
  • Organ meats, such as liver meat.
  • Margarine.
  • Processed foods
  • Sugary drinks.
  • High-fat dairy products.
  • Salty foods
  • Fried food.

Talk to your doctor about your personal calorie and nutrition goals.

Together, you can come up with a diet plan that tastes great and meets your lifestyle needs.

Treatments

Type 2 diabetes can be effectively controlled. Your doctor will recommend how often to check your blood glucose levels.

The goal is to stay within a healthy range.

When the patient has diabetes, the doctor will provide information on how to manage the disease, this includes:

  1. How to control blood glucose levels by yourself. The doctor can explain how to recognize the initial symptoms when abnormal blood sugar levels are present: too high or too low and what to do in each situation.
  2. Dietary recommendations. In addition to following a diet controlling the intake of calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, regulate the timing of meals. There are other additional considerations that are part of treating type 2 diabetes, such as getting about half an hour of aerobic activity daily to help keep your heart healthy.
  3. Recommendations on physical activity. Exercise also helps control blood glucose. In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to keep type 2 diabetes under control.
  4. Information on the drugs to be used.

There are medications that can help. Some of these medications are:

  • Metformin, this medicine can lower blood sugar levels and improve the way the body responds to insulin.
  • Sulfonylureas, this drug helps the body make more insulin.
  • Meglitinides or glinides, which are short-acting, fast-acting medications that stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin.
  • Thiazolidinediones, which make the body more sensitive to insulin.
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors are milder medications that help lower blood sugar levels.
  • Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists, drugs that slow digestion and improve blood sugar levels.
  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors, drugs that help prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing blood sugar and passing it into the urine.

Each of these drugs can cause side effects.

It may take some time to find the best medication or combination of medications to treat your diabetes.

Not all people with type 2 diabetes need to use insulin.

The administration of insulin is recommended when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin on its own.

It is crucial that when insulin is administered, it is done as directed. If the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin therapy may be recommended.

You may only need a long-acting injection that you can give at night, or you may need insulin several times a day.

You may need to see an endocrinologist who specializes in treating diabetes.

You will probably need to visit a doctor more often in the beginning to make sure the treatment plan is working.

Managing type 2 diabetes requires teamwork.

You have to work closely with the doctor, but many of the results depend on the actions of the individual patient.

Your doctor may recommend regular blood tests to determine the variation in blood sugar levels.

This will help determine how well the disease is being managed. If you take medicine, these tests will help assess how well you are working.

Because diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, your doctor will also monitor your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

If you have symptoms of heart disease, additional tests may be needed.

These tests may include an EKG or a heart stress test.

Type 2 diabetes in children

Type 2 diabetes in children is a growing problem. The reasons for this are complex, but risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or having a body mass index above the 85th percentile.
  • Have a birth weight of 4 kilos or more.
  • Being born to a mother who had diabetes while pregnant.
  • Having a close family member with type 2 diabetes.
  • Have a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Be an American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, Asian American, Latino, or Pacific Islander.

The doctor should be consulted immediately if the symptoms of diabetes are observed in a child. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious complications and even be life threatening.

A random blood glucose test can reveal high blood sugar levels.

A hemoglobin A1C test can provide more information on average blood sugar levels in a few months.

If the doctor diagnoses a child with diabetes, it should be determined if it is type 1 or type 2 before suggesting a specific treatment.

You can help reduce children’s risk by encouraging them to eat healthy and be physically active every day.

Complications associated with type 2 diabetes

For many people, type 2 diabetes can be managed effectively.

But it can also affect all organs and lead to serious complications, including:

  • Skin problems, such as bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Nerve damage, or neuropathy, which can cause a loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the extremities, as well as digestive problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Poor circulation in your feet, making it difficult for your feet to heal when you have a cut or infection and can also cause gangrene and as a result foot or leg amputations.
  • Hearing impairment.
  • Damage to the retina, or retinopathy, and damage to the eyes, which can cause impaired vision, glaucoma, and cataracts.
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, angina pectoris, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Kidney damage and kidney failure.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia can occur when your blood sugar is low.

Symptoms can include tremors, dizziness, and trouble speaking.

You can usually remedy this by having a “quick fix” food or drink, such as fruit juice, soda, or hard candy.

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can occur when the blood sugar level is high.

It is typically characterized by frequent urination and increased thirst.

Complications during and after pregnancy

When you have diabetes while you are pregnant, you need to carefully monitor this condition. Poorly controlled diabetes can:

  • Complicate childbirth.
  • Damage your baby’s developing organs.
  • Make the baby gain too much weight.
  • Increase your baby’s risk of developing diabetes during his lifetime.

Statistics on type 2 diabetes

  • One in four people have no idea that they have diabetes.
  • More than one in three adults has prediabetes, and 15 to 30 percent of them will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
  • Non-Hispanic black, Hispanic and American adults, including Alaska Natives, are twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults.
  • Average medical expenses for people with diabetes are about 2.3 times higher than they would be in the absence of diabetes.
  • Diabetes is a high index cause of death, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing cause.
  • About 90 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
  • About half of people with diabetes die from cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is also one of the leading causes of kidney failure.

Managing type 2 diabetes

These tips should be followed to help manage diabetes:

  • Maintain a diet high in carbohydrates and fiber rich in nutrients but low in unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates.
  • Perform daily exercise.
  • Take all medications according to the doctor’s recommendations.
  • Using a home monitoring system, a glucometer, to check blood sugar levels between doctor visits.
  • The doctor will indicate how often the monitoring should be carried out and what the target range of glucose levels should be, according to the individual characteristics of each patient.

It can also be useful for the whole family to join in with the changes in diet, and in general with changes in lifestyles, since they may have the same predisposition to suffer from the disease.

If everyone in your household follows the recommendations, everyone will benefit.

It is also important to inform family members of the warning signs that occur when blood sugar levels are too high or too low so that they can help in an emergency.