Type 2 diabetes is a common disease in which the ability to regulate blood sugar is altered. A common consequence of elevated blood sugar levels is increased fatigue, thirst and volume of urine. Treatment consists of lifestyle changes primarily, but blood glucose-lowering drugs or insulin may also be needed.
Type 2 diabetes is an increasing public health disease. The increase is linked to people’s increased lifespan, a more sedentary lifestyle and an increasingly common prevalence of overweight. The risk of developing the disease increases with increasing age, but more and more young people are also getting sick.
Diabetes mellitus is a general name for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The cause of the disease states is different, but results in an excess of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which is called hyperglycemia – elevated blood sugar level. Insulin is the hormone needed for the body’s cells to convert blood glucose into energy. As the availability of insulin deteriorates, diabetes develops.
The difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 is that in type 1, the body cannot produce insulin at all. The insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed by the immune system, therefore type 1 is counted as an autoimmune disease. In type 2 diabetes, insufficient production of insulin occurs, while at the same time the body cells have reduced their sensitivity to the insulin produced.
Of the diabetes types, type 2 is most common; only one in ten has type 1.
LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes In Adults) is an uncommon and more mild type 1 diabetes that can be mistaken for type 2 diabetes. The course of the disease at LADA is slower and not clear as in type 1 diabetes.
Pregnancy diabetes can occur during pregnancy. It is temporary but needs to be treated while you are pregnant. After childbirth, blood sugar levels are usually normalized.
There are various explanations for why blood sugar levels become elevated in the body. Either the pancreas produces no or too little insulin for the body’s needs, or the cells’ sensitivity to insulin has decreased. The latter is called insulin resistance and is often associated with obesity and physical inactivity.
The development of type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. While some of these factors are under personal control, such as diet and obesity, other factors are not, such as increasing age, female gender, and genetics. Obesity is more common in women than men.
Lifestyle factors are important in the development of type 2 diabetes, including obesity and being overweight (defined by a body mass index of greater than 25), lack of physical activity, poor diet, stress, and urbanization. Smoking appears to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Dietary factors also influence the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in excess is associated with an increased risk. The type of fats in the diet are important, with saturated fats and trans fatty acids increasing the risk, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat decreasing the risk. Eating a lot of white rice appears to play a role in increasing risk.
Some drugs such as cortisone, beta-blockers, statins, birth control pills and even some types of antibiotics can contribute to increased blood sugar.
Signs of diabetes can be difficult to detect – the deterioration is often slow and the symptoms can be diffuse. Blood glucose values must be measured on several occasions to determine if you have normal blood sugar or if it is elevated. Blood sugar changes 24/7 depending on food intake and how much you move.
Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes are
- fatigue and powerlessness
- increased thirst
- increased urine volume and frequency
- impaired or altered vision (blurred vision)
- involuntary weight loss
- foreskin infection in men.
Prevention and protection
You can greatly prevent the development of type 2 diabetes – changing your living habits improves insulin sensitivity in the body. Therefore the following are recommended:
- everyday physical activity for at least 30 minutes
- stopping smoking
- healthy diet
- weight loss in case of obesity
- stress control
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, treatment always begins with lifestyle changes in the form of physical activity and changed diet. If this is insufficient, you will primarily receive tablets, which in different ways affect the sugar balance. Different types of tablet treatments can be combined but sometimes are not enough – in which case you may be given insulin in injection form.
High blood sugar levels lead to impaired circulation in both large and small blood vessels. Type 2 diabetes can lead to increased blood vessel fatigue and an increased risk of small blood clots. The purpose of treatment is, therefore, to stabilize and lower blood sugar levels and thus reduce the risk of complications later in life.
- myocardial infarction
- premature death
- eye injuries
- kidney damage
- nerve damage.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you should:
- measure blood sugar levels
- measure blood pressure and blood fat level
- check kidney function
- check the sensation in the feet
- check eye fundus
When to consult a doctor
If you are tired and powerless in combination with increased thirst, increased urine volume and weight loss, you should contact a doctor.
Seek emergency care in case of severe weight loss, in combination with high thirst and volume of urine and if you feel confused.
How Appotek can help
APPOTEK can help with type 2 diabetes. A nurse or physician will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms, after which you may be prescribed treatment or referred for further examination. In diabetes, a physical examination is required.
Our psychologists can help with supportive conversations if you or your child have been diagnosed and need someone to talk to.