What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 (non-insulin-dependant) diabetes occurs most commonly in people over age forty who are overweight and may have high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol. Type 2 diabetics have few or no ketones in their urine at diagnosis. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, but the insulin does not work efficiently. The cells send a signal back to the pancreas, which in turn senses a too-high blood glucose level. The pancreas then manufactures more and more insulin in an effort to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. Over the years, the pancreas may exhaust itself and stop producing insulin, in which case you would have to take insulin injections.
Some people believe that type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1 and because type 2 may not require taking insulin. For this reason, they may treat it lightly, ignore dietary suggestions, and believe that their illness is not serious. This isn’t true and type 2 diabetes must be taken seriously.
Obese people carry an unusually high risk of type 2 diabetes. The risk for type 2 diabetes for both sexes increases with age. As the body ages, its ability to efficiently use insulin begins to deteriorate. Older people who are overweight and who live a sedentary lifestyle are especially prone to diabetes, and they are more likely than younger type 2 diabetics to require medication.
Some diabetics have no symptoms at all and the disease is discovered as a result of a routine blood test. Most times, however, symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy, irritability, blurred vision, frequent infections, numbness or tingling in the feet and, in women, unexplained vaginal yeast infections, do present themselves.
Treating Type 2 diabetes
The three main categories of treatment are diet, exercise and medication. In type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise alone are often all that is necessary to bring blood glucose down to manageable levels. Sometimes oral medication is necessary.
Oral hypoglycemic agents help the body metabolise the glucose obtained from food. These drugs are not insulin, but they do stimulate insulin-producing cells to secrete more insulin, and they help overcome insulin resistance. The most important thing to remember is that tablets are used only as an addition to diet and exercise, never in place of them. Diet and exercise remain the mainstay of treatment. Controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure are also important components of treatment.