Type 2 Diabetes 101
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention states that about 10% of the American population has diabetes, with more than 90% of those cases being type 2 diabetes. And more than 60 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by the year 2060, according to a study published in Population Health Metrics. So, let’s take a look at all there is to know about type 2 diabetes.
What Is it?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that usually develops in adulthood, though the rate of children having type 2 diabetes is ever-growing. This condition involves the body’s inability to create or use insulin within the pancreas properly. Since insulin is meant to force glucose into the cells for energy, blood glucose levels will rise as a result. High blood sugar levels for months or even years may trigger a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Causes & Risk Factors
Type 2 diabetes can be caused by a single factor or a combination of many. Here’s a look at the most common causes and risk factors and what the research has to say about each.
- Family History: As a result of genetic and environmental factors, there’s a 30 to 70% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you have at least one first-degree relative with the condition (JIM).
- Ethnicity: This condition is more common in non-White Americans, with about 14.7% of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, 11.7% of non-Hispanic Blacks, 12.5% of Hispanics, and 9.2% of Asian Americans being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (ADA).
- Age: Type 2 diabetes is most common in middle-aged Americans, with 17.5% of those aged 45 to 64 and 26.8% of those 65 and older having type 2 diabetes (CDC).
- Obesity: Most cases of type 2 diabetes appear in overweight or obese Americans, with about 90% of diagnoses meeting these criteria (WHO).
You’re also at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes if you have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, gestational diabetes, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Signs & Symptoms
There are plenty of signs and symptoms often attributed to type 2 diabetes, but it’s important to remember that diabetes doesn’t always cause physical symptoms. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention revealed that more than 20% of cases go undiagnosed.
With that said, here are some clear indicators you may have type 2 diabetes.
- Fatigue, tiredness & weakness
- Increased hunger & thirst
- More instances of infections or slowed healing time
- Weight loss
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Mood swings
- Trouble seeing
If you notice that you’re experiencing one or more of the symptoms of diabetes, it’s important that you visit a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is the best way to reverse the condition or improve your prognosis.
Treatment for type 2 diabetes will typically depend on how severe your diagnosis is.
Since the majority of those with type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight, your doctor will likely recommend diet or exercise to lower your BMI. Research from Current Obesity Reports states that a 10% weight loss can reverse prediabetes and improve glucose control if you have type 2 diabetes already.
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis will also require you to test your blood sugar at least once per day. Eating a low carb diet and taking doctor-prescribed medications like Metformin can help you to get your condition under control.
Type 2 diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease, meaning the actions you take in your daily life are likely putting you at greater risk for developing this condition. The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is by eating a healthy diet, staying at a healthy weight, and getting exercise. Be sure to get blood testing to check A1C and blood glucose levels to get a possible diagnosis early.