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Everything you wanted to know about Type 2 diabetes

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Food is digested, or broken down into different elements that can be used by your body for energy. One of these elements that food is broken down to is glucose) (surgar); the main source of energy for the cells that make up your body.

Sugar  (glucose) is digested and passes into the blood. It is then carried throughout your body so it can reach the cells. However, sugar can not be used by the cells without a hormone produced by the pancreas called insulin.  It is insulin that allows sugar to enter the cells and be turned into energy. That’s why, when the amount of sugar in your blood (called blood sugar level) rises after you eat, your pancreas makes insulin and releases it into your blood as well. Once your cells absorb the sugar in your blood, your blood sugar level goes down, and your pancreas makes less insulin.

When you have type 2 diabetes, the cells in your body have trouble absorbing the sugar in your blood. Here’s what happens:

  • Once food is digested, sugar enters the bloodstream and is carried throughout your body—just like normal.  

  • Your blood sugar level rises, telling your pancreas to make more insulin. However…
    due to a condition called insulin resistance, the cells in your body may no longer be sensitive to insulin and do not “unlock” to allow sugar in (another condition called insulin deficiency where your pancreas may not produce enough insulin to allow sugar to be absorbed by your cells. may also occur).

  • During these situations the sugar that should have been absorbed by your cells stays in your blood, which causes your blood sugar level to rise. Because the cells cannot absorb enough sugar, your cells don’t get the energy they need. 

  • In response to high blood sugar levels, your pancreas may try to make extra insulin to try and “force the lock” on your cells. Eventually, the cells in your pancreas that make insulin (called beta cells) begin to wear out and they are no longer able to make enough. 

  • Over time, too much sugar in your blood can lead to health problems.  

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Type 2 diabetes symptoms may include:

  • Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger that may persist even after you eat. Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve your hunger, you may lose weight. Why? Because when the cells can not use the sugar supplies, your muscle tissues and fat stores may simply shrink.

  • Fatigue. If your cells are deprived of sugar, your cells can not produce energy, and as a result you may become tired and irritable.

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream, fluid is pulled from your tissues. This may leave you thirsty. As a result, you may drink — and urinate — more than usual.

  • Blurred vision. If your blood sugar level is too high, fluid may be pulled from your tissues, including the lenses of your eyes which may affect your ability to focus

  • Slow-healing sores.Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to heal.

  • Frequent infections. Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to fight infections. Bladder and vaginal infections are common among women with Type 2 diabetes.

  • Patches of dark, velvety skin in the folds and creases of their bodies, typically in the armpits and neck; a called acanthosis nigricans.

Risk Factors for Type 2 diabetes

  • People with a family history of diabetes – If you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes, you may have a greater risk of developing the disease. 

  • Certain ethnic groups are at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. If you are African American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian American, you may have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Being overweight or obese . Being overweight can increase insulin resistance. Being overweight. Click here for tips on losing and controlling your weight.

Controlling Type 2 Diabetes Risks

You can control some of the key risk factors for type 2 diabetes by:

  • Exercising regularly. This helps your cells use insulin and blood sugar for energy.

  • Watching what you are eating and following a healthy diet that includes minimizing processed foods, and high glycemic foods.

Treating Type 2 Diabetes

The main goal of treating type 2 diabetes is to keep your blood sugar level from getting too high. Some of the best ways you can control your blood sugar are:

  • Eating a healthy diet.

  • Getting regular physical activity.

  • Monitoring your blood sugar.

Sometimes diet and exercise aren’t enough. In this case, your health professional may prescribe one or more oral medications to address your specific cirumstance.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:08
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