Diabetes mellitus type 2 (also known as type 2 diabetes) is a long-term metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to try to get glucose into the cells. But eventually it can’t keep up, and the sugar builds up in your blood instead. Doctors call this insulin resistance. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood and not enough reaches your cells. Long-term complications from high blood sugar include heart disease, strokes, diabetic retinopathy which can result in blindness, kidney failure, and poor blood flow in the limbs which may lead to amputations.
Type 2 diabetes primarily occurs as a result of obesity and lack of exercise. Some people are more genetically at risk than others. Type 2 diabetes makes up about 90% of cases of diabetes, with the other 10% due primarily to diabetes mellitus type 1 and gestational diabetes. In diabetes mellitus type 1 there is a lower total level of insulin to control blood glucose, due to an autoimmune induced loss of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Diagnosis of diabetes is by blood tests such as fasting plasma glucose, oral glucose tolerance test, or glycated hemoglobin (A1C).
Several factors cause type-2 diabetes. If you have a family member with diabetes, you have a genetic disposition to the condition. Type 2 diabetes develops over a long period of time (years). During this period of time insulin resistance starts, this is where the insulin is increasingly ineffective at managing the blood glucose levels. As a result of this insulin resistance, the pancreas responds by producing greater and greater amounts of insulin, to try and achieve some degree of management of the blood glucose levels. As insulin overproduction occurs over a very long period of time, the insulin producing cells in the pancreas wear themselves out, so that by the time someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they have lost 50 – 70% of their insulin producing cells.
People are at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes if they:
Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test for blood glucose. If your results are:
Another test called A1C test can be done for detailed checking for type-1 diabetes.
However you’ve found out you’re at risk – and knowing is a big first step – the important thing to do now is take action to lower your risk. For some people with pre diabetes, early treatment can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range. Focus on the things you can change, like your diet and how active you are. Don’t dwell on the things you can’t do anything about, like your age or your family’s medical history.
Research shows that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58% by:
Losing extra pounds, eating better, and becoming more active are some of the most important steps you can take.