Diabetes type 2 causes high blood glucose levels and serious changes in metabolism. A person with type 2 diabetes cannot make or use insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone that enables our body cells to use glucose.
Glucose is the main source of energy for our body cells. It is a type of sugar that comes from the carbohydrates in food. In type 2 diabetes, body cells cannot use glucose properly. This can be because they cannot use insulin properly or because the pancreas does not make enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes causes high blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
A family history of type 2 diabetes and an unhealthy lifestyle put people at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It often occurs together with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and being overweight.
Symptoms usually develop slowly. They are due to high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and changes in the way the body uses glucose (metabolism).
• feeling very thirsty
• passing more urine
• always feeling tired
• always feeling hungry
• blurred vision
• frequent infections (e.g. thrush, cystitis).
Blood glucose levels may be high for a long time before symptoms appear.
Over time, diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, leading to complications such as:
• eye damage (retinopathy), which can cause vision impairment and blindness
• kidney damage (nephropathy)
• heart disease
• nerve pain or numbness (neuropathy)
• slow healing wounds (e.g. leg and foot ulcers)
• erectile dysfunction (male impotence).
To limit the symptoms and long-term effects of type 2 diabetes, treatment usually aims to keep blood glucose levels before meals within the target range of 6-8 mmol/L.
Treatment aims to keep blood glucose levels as close to the target range as possible with healthy eating, physical activity and medicines.
Several different types of medicines are used to treat type 2 diabetes. They work in different ways to lower blood glucose. Most of the medicines can be taken as tablets, but some must be injected. Some people need to use more than one type of diabetes medicine and some people need insulin injections.
People with type 2 diabetes may need to monitor their blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter.
A healthy lifestyle can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes and also help treat it.
• Have a healthy diet. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, wholegrain/ wholemeal foods, protein-rich foods (e.g. nuts, lean meats, fish, eggs, beans) and low-fat dairy foods every day. Limit or avoid foods high in fat, sugar or salt.
• Choose foods and drinks with no added sugar, or sweetened with a sugar substitute (e.g. diet food and drinks).
• Exercise at a moderate level for at least 150 minutes each week.
• Keep to a healthy body weight.
• Limit alcohol to no more than two standard drinks per day. Eat carbohydrate foods when drinking alcohol.
• Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the complications of diabetes.
• Check your blood glucose levels as advised by your diabetes healthcare team.
• Follow the use and care instructions for your blood glucose meter.
• Follow the directions for your diabetes medicines.
• Have regular checks for your blood pressure, cholesterol, eyes and kidneys
• Take extra care of your feet and have them checked regularly by a doctor or podiatrist.
• Always have some quick-acting carbohydrate (glucose) with you.
• Teach your friends, family and co?workers how to recognize and treat a ‘hypo’.
• Make a ‘sick day plan’ with your doctor and follow it when unwell.
• Link up with the diabetes team in your area. Diabetes teams include doctors, diabetes educators, dietitians,podiatrists and pharmacists.