Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. The disease often develops in stages, starting as prediabetes or insulin resistance. People with prediabetes have elevated blood glucose (sugar), but it isn’t high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Diabetics tend to have too much glucose circulating in their blood, which, if left unregulated, can lead to blindness, heart attacks, stroke, nerve damage, amputations and even death. Unlike type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes can still make insulin, but they develop insulin resistance. That means that the body doesn’t properly use the insulin hormone that the pancreas produces, which leads to it making more insulin.
Insulin helps the cells absorb glucose so that they can use it for energy. As the process of producing more and more insulin continues, the pancreas is unable to meet the demand as the blood glucose levels remains too high and type 2 diabetes occurs. In some instances, the cells that produce the insulin become severely impaired or destroyed and the diabetic requires insulin to help regulate blood glucose.
Blood Glucose 101
With medication and monitoring, diabetics attempt a delicate balancing act to keep their blood glucose within the normal range. If their blood glucose is too low, it can lead to injuries, coma and even death. The symptoms of low blood glucose happen quickly and can include symptoms such as shakiness, confusion, unconsciousness or dizziness. If their blood glucose is too high, then its more devastating effects usually occur over prolonged periods of time, but immediate symptoms include excessive thirst and frequent urination.
Below are the target blood glucose levels for diabetics:
- Fasting: 70–120 mg/dl
- After meals (1-2 hours): Less than 140 mg/dl
Are you at risk?
According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes. Of that number, there are 7 million people with the disease who are undiagnosed. In addition, there are a staggering 79 million people with prediabetes.7 million Americans live with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes Click To Tweet
If this trend continues, by 2050, 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes. One of the biggest contributing factors is the rise in obesity. If you have one or more of the following risk factors, talk to your doctor about testing and prevention:
- Age 45 or older
- Physically inactive
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Had gestational diabetes
- Have prediabetes
- African-American, Alaska Native, Native American, Asian-American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome
- Dark velvety hyper pigmented skin around the neck or armpits
If you suspect that you have diabetes, schedule a doctor’s appointment to check your blood glucose and to test your hemoglobin A1c, which will give you an idea of your blood glucose levels over the last three months.To asses your diabetes risk, have your blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c tested Click To Tweet
“You also want to ask your doctor to check your cholesterol and blood pressure, as these risk factors many times cluster together, especially in overweight individuals,” said Dr. Manisha Chandalia, an endocrinologist at Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital.
If you have diabetes, check your blood regularly and consider enrolling in the Houston Methodist Diabetes Education Program.Reviewed by Dr. Manisha Chandalia