Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there is a high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes: How Healthy Is Your Lifestyle?
An easy way to get more exercise is:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is all of the above. When it comes to being more active, every movement counts. Wear a pedometer and make it a goal to take 10,000 steps a day. Get up and stretch when you're talking on the phone, walk over to talk with coworkers instead of sending email, and always take the stairs.
Things you should do before starting an exercise program are:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is all of the above. Getting more exercise is a great idea to manage your type 2 diabetes. First have your health care provider check out your heart, eyes, feet, and blood sugar. Ask about when you need to check your blood sugar when you exercise.
If you're overweight, losing just a few pounds can help improve your diabetes.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is true. If you're overweight, losing about 7% of your total body weight can help lower your risk for heart disease. If you weigh 200 pounds, that's only 14 pounds. Losing weight also may make it easier to control your blood sugar. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator about simple changes that can help you lose weight.
All carbohydrates, including sugars and starches, will raise blood sugar.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is true. All carbohydrates raise blood sugar, so you should keep track of how many you eat every day. The best choices come from beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugary and processed foods. Ask your diabetes educator how to track the carbs you eat every day.
The best source of protein for someone is diabetes is:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is fish. Eating at least two servings of fish a week may improve triglycerides and may also help lower the risks for heart problems. Choose oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Skinless chicken and turkey, soy, and lean cuts of meat are also healthy choices.
People with type 2 diabetes don't need to check their blood sugar at home.Correct AnswerThe correct answer is false. Checking your blood sugar levels at home will tell you how well you are managing your diabetes. Most people with type 2 diabetes only need to check their blood sugar once or twice a day. If your blood sugar levels are under control, you may only to check them a few times a week.
Which food contains the healthiest fats?Correct AnswerThe correct answer is A and B. Avocados, nuts, and olive, canola, and peanut oils contain monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart. Omega-3 fats found in fish, shellfish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are also heart healthy. These should be your first choice for fats. If buying margarine, look for trans-fat free brands.
When you check your feet, you should look for:Correct AnswerThe correct answer is all of the above. Check your feet every day. Inspect the top, sides, soles, heels, and between the toes. Call your doctor or podiatrist right way about any foot problems. Don't try to treat them yourself first. Even small sores or blisters can become big problems if infection develops or they don't heal.
Which type of footwear should a person with diabetes avoid?Correct AnswerThe correct answer is A, B, and C. Flip flops leave your feet exposed to possible cuts and bruises. High heels and socks with seams or holes can cause pressure points on your feet. Sneakers or any close-toed, comfortable shoes that fit well are the best choice to protect your feet.
Which will treat low blood sugar?Correct AnswerThe correct answer is all of the above. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, take 15 grams of carbohydrate right away -- but no more than this. The examples above contain 15 grams. If you don't feel better in 15 minutes, and your blood sugar stays low, take another 15 grams. If that doesn't work, call your doctor right away.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by special cells, called beta cells. The pancreas is below and behind the stomach. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells. Inside the cells, glucose is stored and later used for energy.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar does not get into these cells to be stored for energy.
When sugar cannot enter cells, a high level of sugar builds up in the blood. This is called hyperglycemia. The body is unable to use the glucose for energy. This leads to the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops slowly over time. Most people with the disease are overweight or obese when they are diagnosed. Increased fat makes it harder for your body to use insulin the correct way.
Type 2 diabetes can also develop in people who are not overweight or obese. This is more common in older adults.
Family history and genes play a role in type 2 diabetes. Low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight around the waist increase your chance of getting the disease.
Type II diabetes - Animation
Over the past several years, our collective diets have grown unhealthier, and our waistlines have expanded as a result. Doing so, we're putting ourselves at risk for a number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is serious stuff, if it's not treated, it can lead to some pretty dangerous complications, including nerve and kidney damage. The good news is you can often avoid type 2 diabetes and its complications. You need sugar, or glucose, to keep your body running. Normally when you eat, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which moves the sugar from food out of your blood and into your cells, where it can either be used for energy, or stored. But if you have type 2 diabetes, this system doesn't work as well as it should, in part because your cells have a harder time responding to insulin. As a result, sugar builds up in your blood. Why is that a problem? Well, that excess sugar can damage organs like your eyes and kidneys, and it can lead to complications like nerve damage and heart disease. Diabetes complications could leave you blind, lead to amputation of your toes or feet, and maybe even kill you. You can help prevent diabetes complications by keeping good control over your blood sugar, but first you need to know that you have type 2 diabetes. Sometimes it can be hard to tell because you may not have any symptoms at first. Being very thirsty, tired, or having to go to the bathroom a lot may be pretty good clues that you might have developed diabetes. Blurry vision might also be a clue. Your doctor can confirm it with a blood test. Once you know that you have diabetes, it's your job to keep it under control. You'll need to check your blood sugar at home and talk to your doctor about how to lower it with diet, exercise, and possibly medicine. To avoid serious complications, you'll need to see not just one doctor, but a team of health care professionals. That includes a podiatrist to check your feet, an ophthalmologist to check your eyes, and a dentist for cleanings and exams. Because type 2 diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, you'll also need to see your primary care doctor regularly to have your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides checked, and to make sure your kidneys are working as well as they should. Like any other disease, it's better to avoid getting type 2 diabetes then to have to treat it. If you're at risk because you're overweight or over age 45, ask your doctor for a blood sugar test at your next check-up. If you have already developed diabetes, you can help avoid complications by staying on top of your health, checking your blood sugars, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and seeing all of your specialists on schedule. Make your doctor a partner in your care. Call right away if you have any problems, like numbness or tingling in your legs or feet, blurry vision, extreme thirst, weakness, or fatigue.
People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first. They may not have symptoms for many years.
Early symptoms of diabetes caused by a high blood sugar level may include:
- Bladder, kidney, skin, or other infections that are more frequent or heal slowly
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Blurred vision
After many years, diabetes can lead to serious health problems, and as a result, many other symptoms.
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider may suspect that you have diabetes if your blood sugar level is higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 11.1 mmol/L. To confirm the diagnosis, one or more of the following tests must be done.
- Fasting blood glucose level -- Diabetes is diagnosed if it is 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher two different times.
- Hemoglobin A1c (A1C) test -- Diabetes is diagnosed if the test result is 6.5% or higher.
- Oral glucose tolerance test -- Diabetes is diagnosed if the glucose level is 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) or higher 2 hours after drinking a special sugar drink.
Diabetes screening is recommended for:
- Overweight children who have other risk factors for diabetes, starting at age 10 and repeated every 2 years
- Overweight or obese adults (BMI of 25 or higher) starting at age 35
- Overweight women who have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, who are planning to become pregnant
- All adults starting at age 45, repeated every 3 years or at a younger age if the person has risk factors such as high blood pressure, or having a mother, father, sister, or brother with diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you need to work closely with your provider. See your provider as often as instructed. This may be every 3 months.
The following exams and tests will help you and your provider monitor your diabetes and prevent problems.
- Check the skin, nerves, and joints of your feet and legs.
- Check if your feet are getting numb (diabetic nerve disease).
- Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year (blood pressure goal should be 140/80 mm Hg or lower).
- Have your A1C tested every 6 months if your diabetes is well controlled. Have the test every 3 months if your diabetes is not well controlled.
- Have your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked once a year.
- Get tests at least once a year to make sure your kidneys are working well (microalbuminuria and serum creatinine).
This test looks for a protein called albumin in a urine sample. Albumin can also be measured using a blood test or another urine test, called the pro...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Visit your eye doctor at least once a year, or more often if you have signs of diabetic eye disease.
- See the dentist every 6 months for a thorough dental cleaning and exam. Make sure your dentist and hygienist know that you have diabetes.
Your provider may want to check your vitamin B12 blood levels if you are taking the drug metformin.
At first, the goal of treatment is to lower your high blood glucose level. Long-term goals are to prevent complications. These are health problems that can result from having diabetes.
The most important way to treat and manage type 2 diabetes is by being active and eating healthy foods.
Everyone with diabetes should receive proper education and support about the best ways to manage their diabetes. Ask your provider about seeing a certified diabetes care and education specialist and a dietitian.
LEARN THESE SKILLS
Learning diabetes management skills will help you live well with diabetes. These skills help prevent health problems and the need for medical care. Skills include:
- How to test and record your blood glucose
- What, when, and how much to eat
- How to safely increase your activity and control your weight
- How to take medicines, if needed
- How to recognize and treat low and high blood sugar
- How to handle sick days
- Where to buy diabetes supplies and how to store them
It may take several months to learn these skills. Keep learning about diabetes, its complications, and how to control and live well with the disease. Stay up-to-date on new research and treatments. Make sure you are getting information from trustworthy sources, such as your provider and diabetes educator.
MANAGING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Checking your blood sugar level yourself and writing down the results tells you how well you are managing your diabetes. Talk to your provider and diabetes educator about how often to check.
Your blood sugar level
When you have diabetes, you should have good control of your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is not controlled, serious health problems called comp...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
To check your blood sugar level, you use a device called a glucose meter. Usually, you prick your finger with a small needle, called a lancet. This gives you a tiny drop of blood. You place the blood on a test strip and put the strip into the meter. The meter gives you a reading that tells you the level of your blood sugar.
Your provider or diabetes educator will help set up a testing schedule for you. Your provider will help you set a target range for your blood sugar numbers. Keep these factors in mind:
- Most people with type 2 diabetes only need to check their blood sugar once or twice a day.
- If your blood sugar level is under control, you may only need to check it a few times a week.
- You may test yourself when you wake up, before meals, and at bedtime.
- You may need to test more often when you are sick or under stress.
- You may need to test more often if you are having more frequent low blood sugar symptoms.
Keep a record of your blood sugar for yourself and your provider. Based on your numbers, you may need to make changes to your meals, activity, or medicines to keep your blood sugar level in the right range. Always bring your blood glucose meter to medical appointments so the data can be downloaded and discussed.
Your provider may recommend that you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to measure blood sugar if:
- You are using insulin injections many times a day
- You have had an episode of severe low blood sugar
- Your blood sugar level varies a lot
The CGM has a sensor that is inserted just under the skin to measure glucose in your tissue fluid every 5 minutes.
HEALTHY EATING AND WEIGHT CONTROL
Work closely with your health care providers to learn how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you need in your diet. Your meal plans should fit your lifestyle and habits and should include foods that you like.
Managing your weight and having a well-balanced diet are important. Some people with type 2 diabetes can stop taking medicines after losing weight. This does not mean that their diabetes is cured. They still have diabetes.
When you have type 2 diabetes, taking time to plan your meals goes a long way toward controlling your blood sugar and weight.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Obese people whose diabetes is not well managed with diet and medicine may consider weight loss (bariatric) surgery.
Weight loss (bariatric) surgery
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REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Regular activity is important for everyone. It is even more important when you have diabetes. Exercise is good for your health because it:
Exercise is an important part of managing your diabetes. If you are obese or overweight, exercise can help you manage your weight.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Lowers your blood sugar level without medicine
- Burns extra calories and fat to help manage your weight
- Improves blood flow and blood pressure
- Increases your energy level
- Improves your ability to handle stress
Talk to your provider before starting any exercise program. People with type 2 diabetes may need to take special steps before, during, and after physical activity or exercise, including adjusting doses of insulin if needed.
Diabetes and exercise
A person with type 2 diabetes can use exercise to help control their blood sugar levels and provide energy their muscles need to function throughout the day. By maintaining a healthy diet and sufficient exercise, a person with type 2 diabetes may be able to keep their blood sugar in the normal non-diabetic range without medicine.
MEDICINES TO TREAT DIABETES
If diet and exercise do not help keep your blood sugar at normal or near-normal levels, your provider may prescribe medicine. Since these drugs help lower your blood sugar level in different ways, your provider may have you take more than one drug.
Some of the most common types of medicines are listed below. They are taken by mouth or injection.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
- Bile acid sequestrants
- DPP-4 inhibitors
- Injectable medicines (GLP-1 analogs)
- SGLT2 inhibitors
You may need to take insulin if your blood sugar cannot be controlled with some of the above medicines. Most commonly, insulin is injected under the skin using a syringe, insulin pen, or pump. Another form of insulin is the inhaled type. Insulin cannot be taken by mouth because the acid in the stomach destroys the insulin.
Your provider may prescribe medicines or other treatments to reduce your chance of developing some of the more common complications of diabetes, including:
Common complications of diabetes
Diabetes makes your blood sugar higher than normal. After many years, too much sugar in the blood can cause problems in your body. It can harm your...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Eye disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease and stroke
People with diabetes are more likely than those without diabetes to have foot problems. Diabetes damages the nerves. This can make your feet less able to feel pressure, pain, heat, or cold. You may not notice a foot injury until you have severe damage to the skin and tissue below, or you get a severe infection.
Diabetes can damage the nerves and blood vessels in your feet. This damage can cause numbness and reduce feeling in your feet. As a result, your fe...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Diabetes can also damage blood vessels. Small sores or breaks in the skin may become deeper skin sores (ulcers). The affected limb may need to be amputated if these skin ulcers do not heal or become larger, deeper, or infected.
To prevent problems with your feet:
- Stop smoking if you smoke.
- Improve control of your blood sugar.
- Get a foot exam by your provider at least twice a year to learn if you have nerve damage.
- Ask your provider to check your feet for problems such as calluses, bunions or hammertoes. These need to be treated to prevent skin breakdown and ulcers.
- Check and care for your feet every day. This is very important when you already have nerve or blood vessel damage or foot problems.
- Treat minor infections, such as athlete's foot, right away.
- Use moisturizing lotion on dry skin.
- Make sure you wear the right kind of shoes. Ask your provider what type of shoe is right for you.
Living with diabetes can be stressful. You may feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do to manage your diabetes. But taking care of your emotional health is just as important as your physical health.
Ways to relieve stress include:
- Listening to relaxing music
- Meditating to take your mind off your worries
- Deep breathing to help relieve physical tension
- Doing yoga, tai chi, or progressive relaxation
Feeling sad or down (depressed) or anxious sometimes is normal. But if you have these feelings often and they're getting in the way of managing your diabetes, talk with your health care team. They can find ways to help you feel better.
People with diabetes should make sure to keep up on their vaccination schedule.
There are many diabetes resources that can help you understand more about type 2 diabetes. You can also learn ways to manage your condition so you can live well with diabetes.
Diabetes is a lifelong disease and there is no cure.
Some people with type 2 diabetes no longer need medicine if they lose weight and become more active. When they reach their ideal weight, their body's own insulin and a healthy diet can control their blood sugar level.
After many years, diabetes can lead to serious health problems:
- You could have eye problems, including trouble seeing (especially at night), and light sensitivity. You could become blind.
- Your feet and skin can develop sores and infections. If the wounds do not heal properly, your foot or leg may need to be amputated. Infections can also cause pain and itching in the skin.
- Diabetes may make it harder to control your blood pressure and cholesterol. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and other problems. It can become harder for blood to flow to your legs and feet.
- Nerves in your body can get damaged, causing pain, tingling, and numbness.
- Because of nerve damage, you could have problems digesting the food you eat. You could feel weakness or have trouble going to the bathroom. Nerve damage can make it harder for men to have an erection.
- High blood sugar and other problems can lead to kidney damage. Your kidneys may not work as well as they used to. They may even stop working so that you need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
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- High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. This may make it more likely for you to get infections, including life-threatening skin and fungal infections.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call 911 or the local emergency number right away if you have:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Fainting, confusion or unconsciousness
- Shortness of breath
- Red, painful skin that is spreading quickly
These symptoms can quickly get worse and become emergency conditions (such as seizures, hypoglycemic coma or hyperglycemic coma).
Also call your provider if you have:
- Numbness, tingling, or pain in your feet or legs
- Problems with your eyesight
- Sores or infections on your feet
- Symptoms of high blood sugar (extreme thirst, blurry vision, dry skin, weakness or fatigue, the need to urinate a lot)
- Symptoms of low blood sugar (weakness or fatigue, trembling, sweating, irritability, trouble thinking clearly, fast heartbeat, double or blurry vision, uneasy feeling)
- Frequent feelings of depression or anxiety
Low blood sugar symptoms
Symptoms such as weakness, feeling tired, shaking, sweating, headache, hunger, nervousness and irritability are signs that a persons blood sugar is getting dangerously low. A person showing any of these symptoms should check their blood sugar. If the level is low (70 mg/dL), a sugar-containing food should be eaten right away.
You can help prevent type 2 diabetes by staying at a healthy body weight. You can get to a healthy weight by eating healthy foods, controlling your portion sizes, and leading an active lifestyle. Some medicines can also delay or prevent type 2 diabetes in people at risk of developing the disease.
Brent Wisse, MD, board certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Internal review and update on 06/04/2021 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 09/03/2021.
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