Type 2 Diabetes

Person taking their blood pressure from their finger.According to a recent study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, two out of five Americans will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.1 This common condition begins with a process called “insulin resistance.” Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large organ behind the stomach. Normally, insulin breaks down the carbohydrates you eat and turns them into glucose, or blood sugar. The glucose then travels through the bloodstream, providing energy and nourishment. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body starts to resist the insulin it produces and stops carrying glucose into the body’s cells. The pancreas tries to compensate for the added demand for insulin by making more. Over time, the pancreas can no longer keep up with the body’s increased need for insulin. Excess sugar accumulates in the bloodstream and begins to cause long-term damage.

There are a number of risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Family history of the disease
  • A diet high in sugar and saturated fats
  • Smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Stress
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Obesity and limited physical activity – especially if a person has a lot of belly fat

In the early stages of insulin resistance, a person is said to have prediabetes, which can often be reversed through diet, exercise, weight loss, and medical supervision. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes because it usually develops in adulthood, most commonly in people middle-aged and older. However, as childhood obesity increases, we are seeing more type 2 diabetes in children and young adults.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes tends to develop slowly and some may have it for years before finally getting diagnosed. Some people don’t develop symptoms for a long time. Untreated type 2 will begin to cause damage to the body, even if the person does not yet have symptoms such as these:
Increased thirst and frequent urination

  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slowed healing of cuts and bruises
  • Frequent skin infections
  • Areas of darkened skin (acanthosis nigricans), usually in the armpits and neck

SOURCES

  1. Eureka Alert: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/tl-tld081214.php