Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that leads to hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to:
- Insulin resistance – the inability of the body to effectively use the produced insulin and/or
- Inability to produce enough insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the inability of the body to metabolize glucose (a simple sugar). This results in high blood glucose levels, which can damage the body’s organs over time.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus was previously known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40 years of age. However, type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common among young adults, adolescents and children, and accounts for about 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.
How dangerous is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that often requires the use of antidiabetic drugs or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, type 2 diabetes and its side effects (complications) can be prevented if detected and treated early.
Recent studies have shown that the treatment of type 2 diabetes can be effective through methods such as low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diets and exercise.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by your body’s cells. Insulin is needed by cells to take up glucose (sugar) from the blood and turn it into energy.
Inefficient use of insulin causes the body to become resistant to insulin, also known as insulin resistance, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to rise (hyperglycemia).
In advanced stages, type 2 diabetes can damage the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, resulting in insufficient insulin production for your body’s needs.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
A number of factors can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes:
- Overweight and obesity
- unhealthy food
- Insufficient physical activity
- Having a close relative with type 2 diabetes
- Having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes also depends on genetics and environmental factors. For example, research shows that:
- If one parent has type 2 diabetes, the risk of inheriting type 2 diabetes is 15%
- If both parents have type 2 diabetes, the risk of inheritance is 75%
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult diabetes because it mostly occurred in middle-aged people over 40 years of age.
However, in recent years, cases of type 2 diabetes have become more common among young people, adolescents and children. This increase was associated with an increase in obesity rates.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes
The most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes are:
- excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased feelings of hunger
- Sudden loss of muscle mass
Some of these symptoms are the same in type 1 diabetes, but in type 2 diabetes they tend to develop more slowly over months or years, making it sometimes harder for people to recognize them as signs of an underlying disease.
In fact, many people have type 2 diabetes for a long period of time before being diagnosed with the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed by the results of either a fasting plasma glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test.
Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
First-line treatment for type 2 diabetes usually involves a combination of dietary changes with regular and appropriate exercise.
It is recommended to eat carbohydrates with a high fiber content and a low glycemic index. This allows for more flexibility and allows for a variety of diets, including low-carb and low-calorie diets, while still providing a good source of low-glycemic foods such as vegetables, beans, and legumes.
Your health care provider should help you determine carbohydrate and alcohol recommendations that are right for you.
Adopting a low-carb diet can help with weight loss and lower blood glucose levels. This is because the metabolized carbohydrate is converted into glucose in the blood and affects blood sugar levels.
Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels
People with type 2 diabetes can greatly benefit from blood sugar testing as it provides immediate feedback on how food, lifestyle, and disease are affecting blood glucose levels. Regular structured blood glucose monitoring has been shown to improve long-term diabetes control by reducing HbA1c levels and the risk of complications.
People with type 2 diabetes may also be prescribed pills and/or injections. Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for people with type 2 diabetes and helps the body respond better to insulin.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can also be switched to insulin injections.
Maintaining good control of blood glucose levels, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, is vital to reducing the risk of diabetes complications. If you are overweight, losing weight can often help reduce the severity of your diabetes symptoms.
Complications in type 2 diabetes
As with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes includes the risks of developing the following common complications:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Kidney disease (nephropathy)
- Eye diseases (retinopathy)
- Nerve tissue damage (neuropathy)
In fact, 50% of people with type 2 diabetes show early signs of these diseases by the time they are diagnosed.
The list of complications, which also includes depression and sexual dysfunction, is not very pleasant, but their risk can be reduced by good diabetes control and attendance at all diabetes visits.
As with many chronic diseases, early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is beneficial for treatment. Before type 2 diabetes develops, most patients develop pre- diabetic symptoms, and if treatment is started at this stage, type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
- Almost 1 in 3 people with type 2 diabetes develop overt kidney disease.
- Within 20 years of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 60% of diagnosed people have some degree of retinopathy.
As stated above, type 2 diabetes can lead to a greater likelihood of health problems, which in some cases can affect your performance and therefore can affect your personal income.
Another factor to keep in mind is that more help from your family or caregiver may be needed, especially as you get older.
With the right support and proper management of diabetes, the potential negative effects of type 2 diabetes can be minimized.
Type 2 diabetes statistics
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), over 371 million people worldwide have diabetes, and this number is projected to increase to over 550 million by 2030 .
Of the total global incidence of diabetes , 90% are living with type 2 diabetes, but it is estimated that up to half of these people are unaware of their condition ( undiagnosed diabetes).