Have you been recently told you have type 2 diabetes? It could be you were diagnosed several years ago! Even so, I am sure it was quite shocking when you received your diagnosis.
Every person that has type 2 is going to have a different journey. No two people will have the same treatment. I will give you everything you need to know about type 2 diabetes below. Then you can explore the causes, diagnosis, symptoms, and complications of type 2 diabetes.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE TYPE 2 DIABETES
Glycated Hemoglobin Test
This test will measure the amount of blood sugar (glucose) that has attached itself to hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the red blood cell that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. An A1c test shows the average amount of glucose attached to hemoglobin over a period of three months. A red blood cell lives for three months, hence the three-month average.
The A1c test is used to check for prediabetes or diabetes in adults. Prediabetes just means you are at risk for developing diabetes if your blood sugars are high. If you already have type 2 diabetes, then it allows your doctor to monitor your condition.
Fasting Blood Sugar Test
A fasting blood sugar test is taken after you have not eaten anything overnight. Then you will test your blood first thing in the morning. A fasting blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dl. If your blood sugar is 100 to 125 mg/dl, this means you are prediabetic. Any reading over 126 mg/dl is considered diabetes. And if you test higher than 126 mg/dl on two separate tests, you also have diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
This test is to determine how your body does when drinking the glucose. The test will be done at your doctor’s office. When you arrive at your doctor’s office a technician will take a sample of your blood to get a starting point. Then the technician will ask you to drink 8 ounces of this glucose solution, it contains 75 grams of sugar. At the one hour mark, the technician will take a sample of your blood again. Then another sample of blood at the two-hour mark.
|DIABETES||126 or above||200 or above||6.5%|
|PREDIABETES||100 – 125||140 – 199||5.7 – 6.4%|
|NO DIABETES||99 or below||139 or below||5.6% or below|
WHAT CAUSES TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Insulin is a hormone that occurs naturally in your body. The pancreas makes it when you eat. Insulin carries glucose from your bloodstream to cells in your body. Then in your cells, it is used as energy. With type 2 diabetes you become resistant to insulin. You’re no longer able to use insulin in an effective way. Eventually this damages cells in the pancreas. The four major factors that cause type 2 diabetes are:
- Weight – If you could lose 5 – 10 percent of your body weight, it can improve insulin resistance. For many of us with type 2 diabetes, it might just be calorie intake and portion control. It could improve your overall health.
- Inactivity – As we get older physical activity becomes more important. It’s recommended that people get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Take a family dog or a neighbors dog for a long walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get a pedometer or a fitness band (Fitbit) and set a daily step goal.
- Family History – Even though this is a strong risk of getting type 2 diabetes, some of the risks belong to lifestyle. If you can lose just a few pounds it could return your blood glucose to normal ranges.
- Age – Being 45 or older can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. As we age we need to include regular, light to moderate exercise along with a controlled diet.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES?
- Frequent urination – When blood sugar gets very high, the kidneys filter the blood sugar to get rid of the extra sugar. This leads to anybody with type 2 diabetes to get up during the night to pee. It’s difficult to get a goods night sleep. Do not have anything to drink after a certain time in the evening, such as 4 hours before going to bed.
- Increased thirst – Because you were up all night going to the bathroom, over time you could become dehydrated. Now you need to drink more water to hydrate. Oh, it’s just a vicious circle.
- Feeling hungry – With diabetes, you don’t get enough energy from the food you eat. Our stomachs break the food down into simple sugars called glucose. Our bodies, of course, use this as fuel. Less of the glucose move from the bloodstream into the cells. So people with type 2 diabetes are constantly hungry. Anyone with type 2 diabetes needs to eat every four to six hours during the day. It will keep energy levels up.
- Tired all the time – Have type 2 diabetes and feeling tired, well you are not the only one. Fatigue is a symptom associated with type 2. Poor blood sugar control leads to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. Then it causes you to become tired. At this point, you need to work with your healthcare provider to manage your blood sugar and making some healthy lifestyle changes. Exercise every day, eat well, drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. Also, take medications properly.
- Blurry vision – Too much sugar in your blood can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eye. When this happens you have blurry vision. Blurry vision can happen in one eye or both. It can also come and go. Damage to those tiny blood vessels can become worse over time. Permanent vision loss may occur. Adults should get a complete eye exam soon after diagnosed. My primary care doctor sends me to get a diabetic eye exam every year.
- Slow healing cuts or wounds – When you have high blood sugar the nerves can become damaged. The damaged blood vessels in your body can hinder blood circulation. Even small cuts or wounds can take some time to heal. Slow wound healing is a risk for infection. Pamper those feet because you use them every day.
- Tingling, numbness, or pain in the feet and hands – Blood circulation and nerve damage is a big complication of blood sugar that is uncontrolled. If you have tingling, weakness, or pain in your hands or feet, you should make an appointment with your physician. These are early symptoms of neuropathy. Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. However, keeping your blood sugars in a healthy range will slow down progression.
- Itching and yeast infections – Having type 2 diabetes can make you prone to yeast infections. If blood sugar is high, yeast then feeds off sugar. Yeast infections love warm, moist areas. Infections can pop up in your genital area, armpits, and mouth. Yeast infections can become very itchy. Your skin will become red and sore, but can also burn. To avoid yeast, wear clothes made from cotton or breathable fabric. Stay away from scented soaps. You can wash daily, but dry skin well. Keep those blood sugar levels in the target range.
COMPLICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES
- Heart disease – Data from the National Heart Association showed that 65% of people with diabetes will die from heart disease or stroke. In fact, it is the number cause of death in people with diabetes. To prevent heart disease, take care of yourself. Keep your blood sugars under control. Have you had your blood pressure checked? Take medication, if necessary. The target to shoot for is 130/80 mm Hg.
Have your doctor get bloodwork done for cholesterol. Your doctor should do this once a year if you have diabetes. Some people may need medication to help lower cholesterol.
Losing weight if you are overweight or obese. Losing just a few pounds makes a big difference in your health.
Should you be taking an aspirin a day. When I was diagnosed they suggested I take one daily. Everyone will recommend exercising regularly, but make sure to check with your doctor before starting any new program. Especially, if you have not been very active.
This is a very big one, “quit smoking.” There are many ways to help you quit smoking if you need it. For instance, nicotine gum, nicotine patches, and drugs prescribed by a doctor. Some people even try the hard way, “cold turkey.”
- Stroke – People with diabetes are 1.5 times more likely to have a stroke. When blood flow to the brain stops for any reason a stroke happens. The elevated sugar in your blood will build up over time and narrow the blood vessels.
Changing your diet is one way to lower your risk of stroke. As I mentioned above, the two diets that are better for healthy eating are the Dash Diet and the Mediteranean Diet.
Exercing almost everyday of the week can reduce the risk of stroke. Taking a brisk walk daily will lower risk of stroke as well as improve your mood. Talk to a doctor before starting any new exercise program.
If you are a smoker, talk to your doctor about programs to help you quit. Your risk is double if you have type 2 diabetes. Also, limit the amount of alcohol you drink. One or two drinks per day is sufficient. If you are prescribed medication, make sure to take it as prescribed.
- Kidney disease – can lead to a person requiring dialysis. People that have diabetes, the blood vessels in the body become damaged. The kidneys get damaged and they can’t clean your blood as well as they should. In addition, your body will hold more water and salt. Weight gain and swollen ankles will then occur.
To keep your kidneys functioning well your doctor will help you with a plan to keep you healthy. He/she will assign you a dietician. In order to keep your kidneys healthy you must keep your blood pressure low. The doctor may prescribe an ace inhibitor.
Manage your diabetes better with: monitoring glucose levels and blood pressure at home. Also, you will need to follow a special diet.
- Eye disease or loss of vision – Make regular eye appointments when you have diabetes. High blood sugar is bad for your eyes. For instance, complications could be blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. Diabetes is the main cause of blindness in ages 20 to 74.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you may already show signs of eye problems when you are diagnosed. To prevent or slow the disease, you must control your blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES?
People that have type 2 diabetes are usually overweight or obese. It’s very likely that when you are diagnosed your doctor will talk about weight loss. There is an urgent recommendation since adipose tissue (fat) increases insulin resistance.
Many people should be focusing on weight around the waist since this can also be a risk for heart disease. Just losing weight by 10 percent, which is like 10 – 15 lbs may be enough to reverse diabetes.
Weight Loss – By losing weight you can improve glucose tolerance. Reversing diabetes will help reduce the risk of eye disease, nerve damage, kidney failure, liver damage, stroke, and heart disease.
The best way to do this is to talk with a registered dietician or diabetic educator. They will help you with a plan to eat healthily and with physical activity. They are very good at what they do. They will help you set realistic goals.
My diabetic educator was very knowledgable about portion control, easy exercises, and the different types of food to eat for diabetes.
Healthy eating – Foods to eat if you have type 2 diabetes, complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils.
Protein-packed foods, such as beans, legumes, eggs, seafood, dairy, peas, tofu, and lean meats and poultry.
Regular exercise – When you exercise your insulin resistance goes down, so your glucose is used more efficiently. Exercise will also reduce the risk of heart disease. There are many benefits to exercising.
At least aim for 30 minutes of cardio (aerobic) exercise every day. Aerobic exercises are:
If you have not been very active shoot for up to 30 minutes gradually adding minutes.
- Blood sugar monitoring – Testing your blood sugar at home is an important part of diabetes care. Many people with diabetes will use a portable electronic device, called a glucose meter. It measures your blood sugar level with a small amount of blood on a test strip. If you have type 2 diabetes, the doctor will recommend a few times a day.
Follow the instructions that came with your meter. Here’s how it works:
- Wash and dry hands well.
- Put a test strip in your meter.
- Poke the side of your finger with the lancet (provided with the kit).
- Squeeze finger till you see a drop of blood.
- Touch the edge of the strip with the drop of blood.
- The meter will display your blood glucose level after a few seconds.
Now record your blood sugar. Glucose meters will store your blood glucose readings for so many days. But many glucose meters can be downloaded onto a computer. I have an app on my phone and my meter records to it via Bluetooth. There are log books that are available to log readings manually. With apps and smartphones, it is much easier to download your readings.
Okay, so let’s recap a bit. You learned how to diagnose type 2 diabetes, with the hemoglobin A1c and the fasting blood sugar test. We went over the symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent urination, being extra thirsty, feeling hungry, tired a lot, etc. Then came the complications of type 2 diabetes, which include heart disease, stroke, diabetic neuropathy. Next how to treat type 2 diabetes, losing weight, eating healthy, and exercising (aerobic). Finally, how to monitor your blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes everything important you need to know.