Diabetes is one of the most common types of chronic diseases in the world, affecting millions of Americans every day. About one in ten Americans have diabetes. In 2017 (the most recent year for which numbers were available), the disease accounted for a staggering one-fourth of all healthcare dollars spent in the U.S. That’s an increase of 26% from 2012. The cost — and the number of diagnoses — continues to grow.
There are several types of diabetes, but 1 and 2 are the most common. And in this group, the majority of people — 90 to 95% — have type 2.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, once known as “adult-onset diabetes” because it typically affected adults rather than children or teenagers, is a chronic condition in which your body fails to remove excess glucose from the blood. That can happen either because of the low production of the hormone insulin, which prompts the transfer of glucose into cells or because the cells are unable to respond to insulin appropriately. In some cases, both mechanisms may be at work. Having type 2 diabetes can lead to dangerously high blood sugar levels, which may result in serious complications such as kidney and nerve damage.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Although being overweight or obese is a factor, there is no single clear-cut cause for type 2 diabetes. Other risks can contribute to developing the disease, as well. These include:
- Weight – Not everyone who’s overweight develops type 2 diabetes, but fat accumulation does play a significant role, and the majority of people with the disease do have high BMIs. Some people with type 2 diabetes may find that weight loss is all that’s needed to manage the condition.
- Distribution of body fat – People with an “apple” shaped body — that is, those who tend to accumulate fat in their abdomen rather than other body areas — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The risk increases if this fat is stored internally around the organs (also known as “visceral fat”) rather than externally as a “spare tire.”
- Family history of diabetes – If you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes, your risk increases.
- Activity level – People with a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Age – While type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in younger people and even in children — possibly due to the rising incidence of obesity in these groups — it typically occurs in people over age 45.
- Race – Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among certain minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Although the question is puzzling, researchers have yet to discover why these minorities are disproportionately affected by the disease.
- Prediabetes – Blood glucose levels are above normal but not high enough to meet the standard for diabetes. If not treated — generally through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise — prediabetes almost invariably progresses to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can perform a simple test called an HbA1C test, which measures your average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months.
What are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes, and Who’s Likely to Get It?
More than 30 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, and no two people will experience it the same way. There are, however, a handful of common symptoms that could lead your doctor to suspect that your blood sugar is out of control. These include:
- Chronic or frequent thirst
- Frequent urination
- Frequent hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Excessive tiredness
- Slow healing
- Frequent or chronic infections
- Blurred vision
- Dark patches of skin in the armpits or on the neck
You are most likely to get the disease if you are middle-aged, overweight, and sedentary.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
While no form of diabetes is currently curable, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, increasing physical activity, and watching your diet can help manage type 2. Some people only require changes to diet and exercise, while others may need to take one or more glucose-lowering medications.
For people with both type 2 and type 1 diabetes, testing supplies are essential. Most people with diabetes need a blood glucose monitor for testing their blood glucose level, testing strips for collecting blood, and lancets — used for finger-pricks to produce a droplet of blood for testing strips. Some also wear diabetic compression socks to help improve blood flow to their feet and reduce the risk of complications.
Whether you’re buying your first glucose monitor, replenishing your testing strip supply, or looking for nutritional shakes to help with weight loss, SimplyMedical.com has what you need. Managing type 2 diabetes can be stressful; let us help make your life a little easier.