type 2 diabetes

1. What is Type 2 Diabetes?

When blood sugar rises above a certain limitation, it is defined as diabetes. Some diabetics have typical symptoms of diabetes “three poly- and one loss”, that is, polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, and loss of weight. There are four types of diabetes, including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and other forms of diabetes. Among them, people with type 2 diabetes are the majority. Most diabetics have insulin resistance or insufficient insulin secretion, rather than insulin dependence.

Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults after the age of 40, so it is also called adult-onset diabetes. It is a long-lasting condition affecting the body’s ability to process sugar (glucose) for energy, leading to dangerously high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia) 【1】. This disease doesn’t have typical symptoms of this kind of disease. Some don’t even have any symptoms at all. In this way, establishing a correct view of diet and measuring blood sugar regularly can effectively prevent the occurrence of diabetes.

type 2 diabetes

2. What’s the Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Type 1 Diabetes: It is mostly caused by immune damage and associated with viral infections. It requires injection or infusion of insulin to control blood sugar, which occurs mostly in youths. Due to an obvious lack of insulin, type 1 diabetes will cause obvious symptoms of “three poly- and one loss”. They are polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, and loss of weight. The diabetics’ pancreatic islet function is poor and the antibody is positive. Oral medicine to lower the blood sugar are ineffective. Thus, people need to inject medications.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: It is caused by inheritance and environmental factors. Environmental factors include obesity, overweight, and hypertension. In all these factors, obesity is the leading reason for type 2 diabetes. A relative lack of insulin and insulin resistance are the causes. This disease is common in middle-aged and elderly people. Typical symptoms of diabetes are not a necessity for it. Some people don’t even have any symptoms. The diabetics’ pancreatic islet function is good and the positive rate is low, so the diabetics can control blood sugar well after taking or injecting medications.

In general, symptoms, causes, and clinical treatments of these two diabetes are different. In this way, people with different diabetes should take a different method.

3. What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

It is often seen as a lifestyle disease. Lifestyle disease means that the possibility of developing the disease increases depending on many lifestyle factors. Besides, genetics, obesity, increased age, and elevated cardiovascular blood markers also play an important role.

  • Genetics. Type 2 diabetes is a genetic disease. It is related to gene, so children of people with this disease are more likely to develop this disease.
  • Bad lifestyle. This diabetes is related to one’s lifestyle. A bad lifestyle may lead to an increasing blood sugar, which will finally cause diabetes. Bad lifestyles include sedentary lifestyles, stress, high-fat diets, etc.
  • Obesity. Obesity is likely to insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is the main cause of type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased age. Although it may begin at any age, people over age 40 are mostly found.

Elevated cardiovascular blood markers. High lipid biomarkers such as triglycerides and cholesterol have a deep connection with the disease.【2】

4. What are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?

It has a hidden beginning and relatively mild symptoms. More than half of diabetics have no symptoms. However, you should notice the symptoms and signs as follows:

  • Polyuria and extreme thirst
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark, velvety patches of skin
  • Fatigue
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Numbness or pain or cold in hands and feet
  • Dizziness

If you have one or more of the above signs for type 2 diabetes or you just doubt that you have this disease, you should see a doctor in time, as you may have this disease.【3】

5. What are Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes?

  • Age (middle-aged and elderly people). Most diabetics develop type 2 diabetes after the age of 40. Age is truly a vital factor if we want to prevent diabetes. We should pay attention to age. For middle-aged and aged people, routine physical examination items should include blood sugar measurements all the time. Even if the result of blood sugar is normal for once, you should measure it regularly.
  • A family history of diabetes. Family history increases the risk of developing this disease by 20%. Family history has a strong genetic link with this disease. That is to say, type 2 diabetes tends to spread within the family. If one’s parents, brothers/sisters, or relatives are diabetics, he/she may well develop this diabetes. People with a family history of this diabetes should take physical examinations regularly to prevent or treat it timely.
  • Being overweight. With weight gain and lack of physical exercise, insulin resistance increasingly worsens. Later, insulin resistance will lead to deficiencies in insulin secretion and type 2 diabetes.
  • Having had prediabetes or other diabetes. 【4】
  • Poor eating habits. Too many of the wrong kinds of foods can increase the risk of this disease. Studies show that eating a diet that’s high in calorie and low in nutrient-rich foods, can largely increase your risk of this diabetes. 【5】
  • Ethnic factors. Compared with Caucasians and Asians, type 2 diabetes is more likely to occur in Native Americans, African-Americans, and Spaniards.

6. How Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

A diagnosis is vital to successfully treating type 2 diabetes. People over 40 years old should take a physical examination to test this disease once every three years. Since this disease arises from ineffective insulin functioning, it is vital to check fasting blood sugar and the blood sugar two hours after a meal. You should also test islet function.

The following two tests are usually used to diagnose type 2 diabetes:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test A1C is a long-term measurement of average blood sugar levels. While an A1C of 5.7 or below is normal, an A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent means prediabetes and a reading of 6.5 percent or higher on two different tests suggests you have diabetes.

Fasting blood sugar test. This test involves having a blood test after you have not eaten for eight hours. If you have a fasting blood sugar level of fewer than 100 mg/dL, your blood sugar levels are normal. But if you have one from 100 to 125 mg/dL, you have prediabetes. If you have 126 mg/dL two separate times, you have diabetes.【6】

7. What are the Treatments of Type 2 Diabetes?

You can treat it in many ways. These ways may include a good lifestyle, oral or injectable medications, bariatric surgery, etc.

Good lifestyle:

Changing or beginning a good lifestyle is nearly always the first step in treating this disease.

  • Weight loss. It is one of the first goals of these lifestyle changes. A loss of just 5% to 10% of total body weight can have a huge effect on blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 【7】
  • Healthy diet. You need to pay attention to carbohydrates, fat, and salt to control your blood sugar and avoid other disease. How much and when to eat is also important.
  • Regular exercise. Exercise is vital to control type 2 diabetes. Exercise can lower your blood sugar. It can not only help your cells use insulin, but also help your muscles use blood sugar. By building muscle and burning fat, it is easier for you to better control your blood sugar levels.

Oral medications:

In some cases, dietary changes, exercise, and weight loss aren’t always enough to control blood sugar levels. Medications may be asked. You may take metformin (Glucophage) to lower your blood sugar levels. Although it is a common drug for people with type 2 diabetes, it is not the only medication. Due to different occasions and effects, you may take one or more of the follows under the doctor’s advice.

  • Sulfonylureas and Meglitinides
  • Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors
  • Thiazolidinediones (TZDs)
  • GLP-1 Agonists
  • GLP-1 Receptor and GIP Agonists
  • DPP-4 Inhibitors
  • SGLT-2 Inhibitors 【8】

Injectable medications:

It can slow down the rate food leaves the stomach and make you feel full. This kind of medication tells your liver not to produce blood sugar at mealtime. At present, you can’t take insulin orally. You can only inject it using devices like syringes or insulin pens. The onset time and duration of time vary from different formulations. Diabetics need to choose the type of insulin that is proper to their current conditions and determine the suitable injection time under the doctor’s advice. To achieve the best blood sugar control effect, sometimes it is possible to mix many insulins and then inject them. Usually, the medications should be injected 1 to 4 times per day. Some main injectable medications are as follows.

  • Byetta
  • Victoza
  • Saxenda
  • Trulicity
  • Lyxumia
  • Semaglutide

Bariatric surgery: 

It is a surgery aimed to help overweight people lose weight. This type of surgery can change the structure of your digestive system. There are many types of bariatric surgery, but the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery has a huge impact on blood sugar. In this process, the intestine changes, so food passes most of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine. In this way, you will get reduced blood sugar levels and a healthier body.

Type 2 Diabetes

8. What are the Complications of Type 2 Diabetes?

Complications of type 2 diabetes consist of acute complications and chronic complications. Acute complications are generally caused by a sharp rise in blood sugar for a short time. This kind of complication may lead to the death of people with this disease. Chronic complications consist of vascular disease and nerve damage. Chronic complications are also the main causes of death.

  • Acute complications: diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperglycemic hyperosmolar status and hyperosmolarity, etc.
  • Chronic complications: mainly vascular disease and nerve damage. The former mainly include arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, cerebral bleeding, diabetic retinopathy, etc.; the latter mainly include distal symmetrical hypoesthesia or hyperesthesia, and uncommon complications such as impotence and unilateral eyelids ptosis.

Most people with type 2 diabetes die from the above diseases, such as renal failure or heart attack. However, with good blood sugar control and a healthy lifestyle, you will not have a high risk for serious complications.

9. Can Type 2 Diabetes be Prevented?

Type 2 diabetes is preventable, and the causes of it are both genetic and environmental. Most people with type 2 diabetes have a family history of this disease, but type 2 diabetes has a certain connection with a bad lifestyle. That is why it is often called a lifestyle disease. Whether you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or not, a good lifestyle is vital to prevent this disease. There are many ways to prevent it, mainly including monitoring chronic complications, developing a good lifestyle, and measuring blood sugar regularly.

Monitor chronic complications. 

Diabetics are likely to other chronic diseases, and these complications are life-threatening. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the monitoring of chronic complications to detect and prevent them in the early stage. In the late period, the efficacy is often poor. Early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent the complications, so diabetics can live a life close to normal people.

Develop a good lifestyle.

It is vital to establish a correct view of diet and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Although there are certain genetic factors in diabetes, the key is life and environmental factors. Excessive calorie intake, obesity, and lack of exercise are important causes. Proper calorie intake, low-sugar, low-fat, and sufficient vitamins are the best dietary. Foods and drinks to limit include bread, chips, cake, and fruit juice. Foods and drinks to advocate include fruits, whole grains, water, and tea.

Measure blood sugar regularly.

Measuring blood sugar regularly is vital to detecting diabetes early. People over 40 years old should take a physical examination to detect this diabetes once every three years. It is worth noticing abnormal skin paresthesia, poor vision, etc. Anyone who has the above signs should go to a doctor and have a physical examination in time. In this way, people with type 2 diabetes can gain valuable time for early treatment.

10. Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Many years ago, it was unusual to hear about a child with type 2 diabetes. Doctors used to believe kids only got type 1. It was even called juvenile diabetes for a long time. However, it is not the case now. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 208,000 people younger than 20 have diabetes. That number includes both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 【9】 The biggest cause of type 2 diabetes in children is overweight. In the United States, nearly 1 in 3 children is overweight.

Once a child is overweight, their possibility of developing diabetes doubles. One or more of the following factors may lead to weight gain or obesity: unhealthy diet; lack of physical exercise; family history; other medical conditions. At first, there may be no symptoms. As time goes by, the following symptoms may occur: sudden weight loss, very hungry or thirsty, fatigue, blurry vision, heavy breathing, wound, numbness of hands or feet. Once you notice any of these symptoms, take your child to the doctor in time.

Early diagnosis and early treatment can often prevent complications, so diabetics can live a life close to normal people.