Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive and chronic condition that affects the way your body regulates the blood sugar. The pancreas produce the hormone insulin that assists in converting sugars (glucose in blood) into energy which the body uses immediately or store for future use.
A person having type 2 diabetes will have difficulty in using the insulin efficiently. Even if the body produces the insulin, it is either not sufficient or not used effectively which results in the increase in blood sugar levels.
If not treated early, the condition can lead to further complications including heart diseases, high blood pressure, depression, diseases related to eyes and kidneys, and nerve damage inside the stomach, hands and feet. Sometimes it can also cause erectile dysfunction. The risk of diabetes normally increases as you age while unhealthy habits like smoking and a poor diet also leads to diabetes. With the right treatment that is tailored to specific needs and some lifestyle changes, patients suffering with diabetes can lead a healthy and normal life. Here is what you need to know about the causes, symptoms and treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
As most of the symptoms of this condition develop very slowly, it might be years before you know that you are actually affected with diabetes and the blood sugars levels are generally very high by the time you know. Some of the most common type 2 diabetes symptoms include:
Blurred Vision: When the blood sugar levels are very high, fluid is pulled from the lenses of the eyes which affects the ability to focus resulting in blurred vision.
Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination: The excess sugar that is building up in the bloodstream pulls fluids from the bodily tissues leaving you thirsty. As you drink more water, you will also urinate more than normal.
Slow Healing of Cuts and Wounds: Increased levels of blood sugars affects the nerves resulting in poor circulation. The blood, which is need for skin repair, finds it hard to reach the affected areas resulting in very slow healing.
Extreme Fatigue: Ample amount of sugar in the cells helps us stay active. With the cells deprived of sugars, you will become more tired and irritable.
Weight Loss: As the body loses its ability to metabolize the glucose, it uses alternative fuels that are stored in the muscles and fat. Frequent urination also results in losing excess calories.
Together with these, there are also other common symptoms like increased infections, dark patches on skin folds and creases, and dry, itchy skin. Any of these symptoms should not be ignored and immediate treatment should be planned with a registered doctor. Complications that arise due to diabetes can be prevented if the condition is caught early.
Type 2 Diabetes Causes
We all know that diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas are not producing enough of this hormone that is required by the body. While the exact cause behind this is unknown; genetics, age, excess weight, inactivity and some environmental factors too contribute to this condition. Other common causes of type 2 diabetes include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Obesity and overweight
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Smoking and poor diet
Complications of Type 2 Diabetes
The main reason behind most people ignoring this condition is because complications of diabetes are long-term and develop gradually. If not caught and treated early, diabetes can further lead to many health complications that are disabling and even life-threatening. Some of the potential diabetes complications include:
Heart and Blood Vessel Diseases: Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various problems related to the cardiovascular health including heart attack, coronary heart diseases, angina (chest pain), atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries), high blood pressure and stroke.
Damage to Kidneys: This condition is also referred to as nephropathy. Kidneys have millions of clusters of tiny blood vessels that help in filtering waste from the blood. Diabetes can severely damage this filtering system leading to kidney failure and may even result in end-stage kidney disease that eventually requires a kidney transplant.
Nerve Damage: Excess sugar damages the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that nourish the nerves. Commonly referred as neuropathy, this condition mostly affects nerves in the legs leading to numbness, tingling and burning sensation that starts at the tip of the fingers and toes and gradually spreads upwards. If the nerves of the digestive system are affected, this may further lead to nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea. In men, nerve damage may also lead to erectile dysfunction.
Eye Damage: Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. This will potentially lead to blindness. Cataract and glaucoma are other potential conditions that occur due to diabetes.
Alzheimer’s: While the exact relation between diabetes and Alzheimer’s is still debated, studies indicate that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Moreover, the risks appear to be greater if the condition in not treated early.
Foot Damage: Slow healing wounds increase the effect of various foot complications and cuts and blisters become may lead to more serious infections if not treated timely. Severe damage may result in the amputation of toe, foot or even the leg.
Skin Problems: As there is increase in bacterial and fungal infections, people with diabetes are prone to skin diseases and experience frequent itching and irritability.
While there are certain things that you can’t change like family history, ethnicity and aging; you sure can work on other ways to prevent diabetes. These include having a healthy lifestyle and lowering your blood sugar levels. Even if you are diagnosed with diabetes, lifestyle choices that are healthy will help in preventing further complications and can even halt or slow down the progression of diabetes to further stages. Some of the measures for preventing diabetes include:
Exercise Regularly: About 30 minutes of exercise a day or 150 minutes per a week can help you in reducing your weight and blood pressure. A brisk daily walk and swimming are also better activities to keep diabetes at bay.
Shed Excess Pounds: People who are overweight and suffering from diabetes can benefit from losing even seven percent of their body weight. Making changes to eating and exercising habits will help in keeping the weight in a healthy range. To motivate yourself better, focus on the benefits including increased self-esteem, more energy and a healthier heart.
Quit Smoking: Aim to quit if you smoke. Smoking leads to various health problems including heart attack, blood pressure and even increased the risk of stroke. Together with reducing the risk of diabetes, quitting smoking also helps your skin and reduces the signs of early aging.
Make Healthy Food Choices: Eat foods that are high in fiber and low on calories and fats. Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of sodium and prevent adding salt to your foods as much as you should avoid eating fast food.
Together with all these, medication is also an option for diabetes treatment. While oral diabetes medication may reduce the risk of diabetes, healthy lifestyle is as essential. As diabetes is a progressive disease, the symptoms might not slow down immediately after you start medication or begin exercising. Do not be discouraged and talk with your doctor if there is any need to increase the medication. In the meanwhile, continue what you can do to improve your health.