Diabetes mellitus is a permanent disease that causes blood sugar levels to be too high.
Diabetes develops due to the body’s inability to use insulin. The insulin is necessary for the sugar (glucose) that is in the blood to enter the cells.
The sugar is stored in the cells and then used for the necessary energy production.
Diabetes develops because:
- not enough insulin is formed for the needs of the body;
- adipose tissue, liver and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin; this phenomenon is also called insulin resistance. The consequence is that the sugar from the blood does not enter the cells to be converted into energy;
- there is a combination of these two reasons.
If the sugar does not enter the cells, hyperglycemia develops, i.e. increased blood sugar levels.
Usually, type 2 diabetes develops slowly over a longer period of time.
Most people with this condition are overweight when they are diagnosed with diabetes.
Excess fat makes it difficult for the body to use insulin correctly.
Type 2 diabetes can also develop in lean people.
This happens more often in the elderly.
Genes and family history play an important role in type 2 diabetes.
Excess body weight in the waist area, a poor diet and lack of exercise increase the risk.
Cause of type 2 diabetes
There is no single reason that causes type 2 diabetes, but there are well-established risk factors. Some of them can be changed, but others cannot.
The risk of diabetes is higher if:
- there is a positive family history;
- one is over 55 years of age, perhaps because a person moves less with age, loses muscle mass and increases his body weight;
- you are over 45 years of age and overweight;
- has an age over 45 years and high blood pressure;
- women have given birth to a child weighing over 4.5 kg;
- gestational diabetes has occurred during pregnancy;
- has polycystic ovary syndrome.
Researchers don’t quite understand why some people get type 2 diabetes and others don’t.
What is clear, however, is that some factors increase the risk, including:
Overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Those who have a lot of belly fat have a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those in which the fat is stored in the thighs and buttocks.
Less active people are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps to control weight, make better use of sugar as an energy source and keep cells sensitive to insulin.
If a parent or sibling suffers from type 2 diabetes, the risk increases.
Although the reason for this is not known, people of a certain ethnicity (blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans) are more likely than white-skinned people to develop type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Often, people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at first. They can be symptom-free for many years.
The first symptoms of diabetes are:
- infections of the bladder, kidneys, skin or other parts of the body,
- infections and wounds heal more slowly,
- increasing thirst,
- increased urination.
Initial symptoms may also include:
- Blurred vision,
- erectile dysfunction
- Pain or numbness in the hands or feet.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
A simple test can detect sugar (glucose) in a urine sample. However, this is not sufficient for a reliable diagnosis of diabetes. Therefore, a blood test is required for diagnosis.
The blood test shows the blood sugar, which is the level of glucose in the blood.
If the blood sugar level is high, this is proof that you suffer from diabetes. Some people do two blood tests.
The test is done in a fasting state (this means that from midnight of the previous day you are not allowed to eat or drink anything, except water).
Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is also used as a test to diagnose diabetes.
An HbA1c of 48 mmol/mol (6.5%) or higher is a value that confirms the diagnosis of diabetes.
In many cases, diabetes is diagnosed during a medical examination or when tests are taken for another condition or during an annual routine check-up.
Below are the values of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes:
A value lower than 110 mg/dl on an empty stomach or a value lower than 140 mg/dl 2 hours after eating.
- Impaired blood sugar:
A blood sugar level between 110 and 126 mg/dl or a value greater than 140 mg/dl 2 hours after eating.
- Glucose intolerance
A blood sugar level between 140 and 200 mg/dl 2 hours after eating.
A blood sugar level greater than 200 mg/dl 2 hours after eating.
Complications and risks of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes and sleep
People with diabetes often sleep little, they have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Diabetic coma Also known as hyperosmolar hyperglycemia syndrome, diabetic coma
is a serious complication that can occur when blood sugar reaches levels that are too high or too low.
Those who are in a diabetic coma are alive, but cannot react to stimuli. An untreated diabetic coma can be fatal.
Insulin overdose Signs of lowered blood sugar or hypoglycemia include: cold sweats, trembling hands, anxiety, general confusion.
Diabetes and heart disease Anyone who has diabetes should be aware of the risk of heart disease
and what to do to prevent it.
Stroke and diabetes
Diabetics have an increased risk of stroke.
Diabetes and Infections
Diabetes can slow down the body’s ability to fight infection. Elevated blood sugar levels also lead to increased levels of sugar in tissues, favoring the growth of bacteria and faster development of infections.
Diabetic nephropathy Diabetic nephropathy is a kidney disease as a result of diabetes and is the main cause of renal insufficiency.
About one-third of people with diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy Diabetic neuropathy
is a very common consequence of diabetes. It usually begins many years after the onset of the disease, about 25 years later.
Diabetic neuropathy is a disorder that occurs mainly in the elderly and can affect the autonomic and peripheral nervous systems.
Diabetic retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that occurs in the majority of people with diabetes mellitus, especially type 1 diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy of the proliferative type occurs when there is intense vascular proliferation in which the blood vessels are extremely vulnerable (which therefore very often rupture and cause damage to the retina).
Non-proliferative retinopathy does not show neovascularization, but only microaneurysms and sometimes exudates (deposits of protein, fats and carbohydrates).
Symptoms are visual disturbances that can lead to blindness.
Diabetes and surgery
Diabetes slows down the body’s ability to close wounds and form scars.
Before undergoing surgery, you should inform the surgeons that you have diabetes.
Therapies and natural treatments for type 2 diabetes
Diabetes therapy aims to help people control blood sugar levels and minimize the risk of developing complications over time.
Those who have type 2 diabetes must take careful care of their health for the rest of their lives.
This may seem daunting, but the doctor who specializes in diabetes is able to give support and advice on all aspects of treatment.
The treatment of diabetes consists of changing the diet, incorporating physical exercises into lifestyle habits and, finally, the use of medication.
For many people with type 2 diabetes, the first approach to treatment is to change lifestyle habits
One should do regular exercises, eat healthy, and if someone is overweight or obese (body mass index 30 or higher), they should reduce
weight, which may be sufficient to maintain proper blood sugar levels without further treatments.
What should you eat?
There are no allowed and prohibited foods. It is sufficient to achieve a balance in the amount and type of food consumed.
More information can be found on the page about diabetes diet.
Medications for type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes usually gets worse over time. Even if the diet and physical exercises have an effect at the beginning, at some point they may no longer be enough to keep blood sugar levels under control.
Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes may need medication that lowers blood sugar levels.
Initially, therapy is based on drugs that are taken in tablet form and sometimes it can be a combination of different tablets.
In the further course, one gets to the insulin injection or other medications.
Insulin-dependent patients should receive at least one insulin injection daily throughout the year.
Prevention of type 2 diabetes
While genetics play an important role, an individual possesses the ability to influence health to prevent diabetes.
Obesity and lack of exercise are risk factors that can be changed.
People should maintain or decrease their weight and exercise more.
Dieting is important because it helps you lose weight.
There are some foods, such as nuts, that, in small amounts, provide certain benefits in regulating blood sugar.
Tests are available to see if a person is at risk for type 2 diabetes, but identifying the two most important risk factors requires an accurate family history (genetic) and scales.
Physical exercise is important in the prevention of type 2 diabetes even without weight loss, but there are greater benefits in reducing body weight.
Smoking is harmful for many reasons, including increased risk of cancer and heart disease. It also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
There are drugs available that have been shown in important studies that can delay or prevent the development of diabetes.
The use of these drugs requires a detailed discussion with the doctor about their advantages and disadvantages, since some side effects must be taken into account.
The next few years will see progress in the field of diabetes prevention. But the most important point in therapy will probably always be a healthy lifestyle.
Can you get a cure for type 2 diabetes?
Currently, there is no treatment that leads to a definitive cure, but there are many drugs that can be used to reduce symptoms and prevent complications.
The life expectancy of diabetics is just as high as that of people without diabetes, because this disease does not lead to death.