What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Although some symptoms may be similar, it is a different condition to type 1 diabetes.
Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, most people with type 2 diabetes still produce insulin. However, it is either not enough to deal with all the glucose that is in their blood or their cells are unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly (this is called insulin resistance).
Type 2 diabetes usually affects people who are middle-aged or older, and obesity is by far the biggest risk factor. In the past two decades, the condition has become more prevalent in younger people, including children, mainly because of the rising rates of obesity in children. People who do little exercise or of certain ethnicities (such as Native Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics) are also at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually come on gradually and may be so subtle that many people do not realize they have the condition.
Symptoms may include:
- Always feeling thirsty
- Feeling hungry, even though you eat regularly
- Going to the toilet (urinating) often
- Getting sick frequently, or frequent skin infections, particularly yeast or fungal infections
- Infections take longer to heal
- Feeling tired all the time or lacking in energy
- Blurred or deteriorating vision.
How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?
Some doctors screen for diabetes in people of a certain age and it is usually always screened for in pregnant women. If you or your doctor suspects you have type 2 diabetes then they may perform a blood test on the spot that tests for blood sugar levels using a fingerprick blood sample or order a blood test that tests for blood sugar levels in the morning after an overnight fast.
Your doctor will also perform an examination and measure your blood pressure. Tests for cholesterol may also be conducted because approximately one-third of people with type 2 diabetes also have high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well.
How is type 2 diabetes treated?
Even though symptoms of type 2 diabetes are barely noticeable in some people, constantly high blood sugar levels cause permanent damage to all the blood vessels and nerves in the body. Untreated diabetes can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, erectile dysfunction, foot problems, gum disease, eye and kidney disease, and many other problems.
If treatment is not started early, it is too late to reverse any damage once symptoms become more noticeable.
Treatments for Type 2 diabetes include:
- DPP-4 inhibitors
- GLP-1 receptor agonists
- SGLT2 inhibitors