Diabetes 2 affects the body’s ability to use glucose, a simple carbohydrate used by the cells and brain for energy. It’s a chronic condition once considered an adult disease, but now many adolescents also exhibit symptoms. An individual afflicted with this disease either does not produce enough insulin or his body has developed a resistance to using insulin. If a type 2 diabetic does not manage his glucose level, cell damage occurs and eventually could lead to death.
In a healthy person, unused sugar is converted into glycogen and stored in the liver. Excess glycogen turns into fat and gets deposited around the body. Low sugar levels cause the body metabolize fat for energy, but this doesn’t work for the brain. It can only use glucose for energy. Without sugar the brain will starve.
The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which plays an important role in maintaining sugar levels. It enables glucose to enter the cell. In a person with type II diabetes, insulin works less efficiently. There is plenty of glucose in the blood but it the brain and cells can't use it, so they send the body a message, “we need food.” The liver releases more glucose that the cells can’t use. Glucose levels continue to rise in the blood, and become toxic. The body tries to get rid of the glucose by urinating.
A number of symptoms indicate the possibility of diabetes such as more frequent and prolonged infections of the skin, kidney or bladder. High levels of glucose over time damage blood vessels, and healing takes longer. Because the body is trying to remove the excess sugar, a person will drink and urinate more than usual. High levels of glucose in the blood cause a person to feel sleepy, and have difficulty staying awake. A person may else experience blurry vision.
Tests exist to determine if an individual actually has diabetes 2. The quickest method is a fasting blood glucose level test. Several companies now make glucose meters and test strips. After fasting, a tiny drop of blood is applied to a test strip. The National Library of Medicines Medline Plus website states a reading greater than 126 mg/dL indicates diabetes. An additional test is the Hemoglobin A1c test. This is also done while fasting, and needs to be done by a testing clinic. An A1c of greater than 6.5% indicates diabetes.
Some population demographics as well as genetic and environmental factors indicate a predisposition to the disease. African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans are more likely to contract diabetes 2. If a person’s grandparents or parents have diabetes, there is an increased likelihood the descendant will eventually get it. Overweight or obese individuals are prone to this disease. Older people are more likely to have diabetes. However, as the population’s weight increases, the number of people getting diabetes II at an earlier age is also increasing. Individuals living a sedentary life are more likely to suffer from this disease.
Treating Diabetes 2
Treatment for diabetes 2 is a multi-pronged approach. Doctors try to recognize the disease early, and treat it with exercise and diet. If this doesn’t control it, then prescription drugs are an option. The third method for controlling blood glucose levels is insulin injections. All of these methods require constant blood glucose testing at home using meters and test strips.
The long-term hazards of diabetes 2 are serious. Wounds that don’t heal as a result of poor circulation can result in amputation. Damage to eyes can cause blindness. Diabetes also contributes to heart attacks and death. Diabetes is a disease that needs to be taken seriously.