Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
Metabolic Health

Type 2 Diabetes symptoms

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, wherein the sugar or glucose levels start building up in your bloodstream. Its symptoms may generally not be visible during the initial stages, but you’ll start noticing it once it affects your health. In fact, many people didn’t know they were living with Type 2 diabetes for years until they were diagnosed with it later. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with it or want to know more about this chronic condition, start by learning more about its causes, signs, symptoms, etc. To make your work easier, we’ve already done the needed research. Make sure you definitely read till the end to know more about Type 2 diabetes.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

It is a condition in which the body doesn’t use sugar or glucose the way it should. As a result, the bloodstream gets injected with high sugar levels. Once the sugar levels rise to an abnormally high level in the bloodstream, it gives rise to several immune, circulatory, and nervous disorders. Though there is no such cure for Type 2 diabetes, changes in lifestyle habits can bring about a noticeable difference. Some people can also need medicines and treatment like insulin therapy, diabetes medicines, etc., to reduce the negative impact of high sugar levels.

Statistics About Type 2 Diabetes

Let us have a look at the statistics about diabetes in the USA by the centers for disease control and prevention –

  • More than 30 million people are diabetic which is around 10 percent of the entire population.
  • 1 in 4 people is not even aware that they are diabetic.
  • 84.1 million adults are affected by prediabetes and 90 percent of them do not even know that.

The following are the statistics according to the ADA reports –

  • In 2017, the direct medical cost in the USA was $327 billion with reduced productivity.
  • The average medical expense for people with diabetes is 2.3 times more than for those without diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States either as the underlying cause of death or contributing cause of death.

According to the World Health Organization, the following are the statistics of diabetes –

  • The 2014 global prevalence for diabetes was 8.5 per cent for adults.
  • In 1980, only 4.7 percent of adults were reported to be diabetes.
  • In 2016, only diabetes caused 1.6 million deaths all over the world.
  • Diabetes increases the risk of heart ailments and stroke three times.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disorders and kidney failure.
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Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

There are primarily two causes for type 2 diabetes. First, the pancreas, a gland behind and below the stomach, cannot produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels. And second, cells in your muscle, fat, and liver become resistant to insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating the movement of sugar into your body cells. 

In normal cases, once the sugar enters the bloodstream, it triggers the pancreas to release insulin, enabling sugar to enter your cells. Once the sugar enters your body cells, its content in the bloodstream drops. In response to this sugar drop, the pancreas also releases less insulin. The process is more or less similar with glucose (sugar). The only difference is that glucose comes from food and the liver. Glucose (sugar) enters your cells with the help of insulin. 

But if you’re a person having type 2 diabetes, this process won’t work well. Instead of heading to body cells, the sugar will start building in your bloodstream. And as the sugar content increases, the pancreas also releases more insulin. Since the cells cannot absorb all this insulin and sugar from the bloodstream, it eventually leads to cells becoming impaired.   

Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be hard to detect during their nascent stage, but you’ll be able to identify the disease with the following symptoms:

1. Increased Thirst 

When your kidneys have to overwork to get rid of the excessive sugar build-up in your bloodstream, it results in fluids being pulled from your tissues, making you feel dehydrated and thirsty. 

2. Blurry Vision

High blood sugar can significantly impact a clear vision, making it blurry. It can make focusing a rather tricky task for you.  

3. Fatigue

As your body cannot consume energy from the food you take, you can easily feel weak and tired.

4. Non-healing Infections/Sores

High sugar levels in the bloodstream can lower the pace of blood flow, making it harder for your body to heal.

5. Frequent Urination

Urination will increase as your kidneys try hard to get rid of the excess sugar in your bloodstream. 

6. Increased Hunger

You can start feeling hungry even after taking a meal because your body cells cannot absorb glucose.

7. Dry Mouth

Urinating more than usual and dehydration will together lead to draining moisture from your mouth.

8. Tingling Hands & Feet

The impairment of cells directly impacts the nerves in your hands and feet, giving you a tingling sensation in both feet and hands.  

If you start noticing these symptoms in your body, try shifting to a healthy type 2 diabetes diet immediately.

Treatment and Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes symptoms are easy to manage if diagnosed early and in some cases can be reversed also. The treatment of diabetes includes regularly monitoring the blood glucose level in the body. The main aim of the treatment is to maintain the sugar levels within a specific range. The treatment of diabetes is not only dependent on medications but it is also essential to bring some changes in the lifestyle which will have a positive impact on the body. Therefore, a person with diabetes has to undergo two types of treatment. They are – Lifestyle treatment and medical treatment.

Lifestyle Treatment

  • The lifestyle changes that are helpful to treat type 2 diabetes are as follows –
  • Consumption of foods rich in healthy carbohydrates and fibre such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This will help in keeping the blood sugar levels stable.
  • Eating at regular intervals
  • Focus on the needs of the body and stop eating when you feel full. Avoid binge eating.
  • Weight management and heart health are crucial. As much as possible avoid or keep these to a minimum – refined carbs, sweets, and animal fats.
  • Exercise regularly for 30 minutes at least. This will help in regulating the blood glucose levels and also keeps the heart healthy.
  • Check with an authorised dietician and create a diet plan that best suits your body type and discover and include the foods that will be beneficial for your body.

Medical Treatment

An active and healthy lifestyle is as important as the medications for type 2 diabetes. In some cases, only lifestyle changes can help in treating type 2 diabetes. However, some cases need medications to treat diabetes which include –

  • Metformin – This is the most preferred and first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes for most people. This helps in lowering blood sugar levels and ensures that the body responds to insulin better.
  • Meglitinides – This is a short-duration medication that acts so fast which helps in stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin.
  • Sulfonylureas – These are the medications to be given orally and it helps the body to make more insulin.
  • Thiazolidinediones – This medication makes the body more sensitive to insulin.
  • Glucagon-like peptide 1 agonist – This helps in the slow digestion of food and improves blood glucose levels.
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) Inhibitors – These medications help in reducing blood sugar levels by acting mildly.
  • Sodium-Glucose Contraspoters -2 (SGLT – 2) Inhibitor – This medication helps the kidneys to remove excess sugar through urine.

Apart from these medications, some may even be advised to take insulin because their pancreas is not producing enough insulin needed by the body. Insulin can either be taken through a long-acting injection at night or several times during the day.

Risk Factors to Get Type 2 Diabetes

Though there are no one or two risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, we’ve listed the most common ones for your reference. 

1. Increased Weight

One of the biggest risks of this type of diabetes is being obese.

2. Inactivity

Less activity means higher risks and vice-versa. 

3. Family History

If someone in your family tree, like your parents, grandparents, or siblings, had type 2 diabetes, your chances of having it too will increase. 

4. Age

The risk of getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes increases as you grow older, especially after 45 years.  

5. Blood Lipid Levels

Low levels of high-density lipoprotein and high triglycerides are linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

6. Areas of Darkened Skin

Any darkened skin area indicates insulin resistance, especially around the neck and armpits.  

Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

It is very crucial to control blood sugar levels to avoid complications related to it. There are a lot of complications related to diabetes. The following are some of them –

Diabetic Ketoacidosis – When there is not enough insulin in the body, the body breaks down the fats stored in the body to use as energy. During this process, the toxic acid called ketones build up and spills into the urine. This, if not treated can cause coma and even death.

1. Heart & Blood Vessel Disease

Potential risks of heart diseases, narrowing blood vessels, and high blood pressure remain high with type 2 diabetes. 

2. Hypoglycemia 

In severe cases, if your blood sugar levels fall below 70 mg/dL, it can lead to coma, accidents, or even death. 

3. Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is common with type 2 diabetes.  

4. Eye Damage

Diabetes is known to cause severe damage to the eyes in the form of cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness. 

5. Dementia

The risk of disorders leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is higher with people having type 2 diabetes.

6. Hyperglycemia

When the blood sugar level is more than 180 to 200 mg/dL, it leads to hyperglycemia. This can cause nerve, heart, kidney and vision problems. If not treated timely, it may lead to coma and death.

 7. High Blood Pressure

Diabetes increases the risk of blood pressure which again leads to heart attacks and strokes. Read more about the cause and symptoms of blood pressure

8. Nerve Damage

Diabetes can cause numbness and a tinkling sensation in the feet and legs. It also impacts the digestive system, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels.

9. Kidney disease

Diabetes increases the workload of the kidneys, making them filter the extra sugar along with all the toxins from the body. This leads to kidney ailments.

10. Skin problems

Diabetes causes various skin-related issues such as allergies, infections, itching, diabetic dermopathy, blisters, acanthosis nigricans, and disseminated granuloma annulare.

Importance of Early Diagnosis

A person with diabetes needs to recognise the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes and get diagnosed early, which will help in better treatment. Early diagnosis paired with a healthy and active lifestyle, physical activities and controlling glucose levels will greatly impact a person’s health increasing the quality of life and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications.

Early diagnosis will also lead to timely treatment otherwise persistent high blood sugar will lead to other serious complications such as – nerve damage, foot problems, heart ailments, stroke, kidney problems, loss of vision etc.

If diabetes is not treated on time, it may also lead to hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome (HHS) which can cause a severe increase in blood sugar levels which may keep a person hospitalised for some time. Therefore, keeping a check on blood sugar levels and controlling them is essential to prevent these complications.

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes

As mentioned at the beginning, healthy lifestyle changes can bring about major positive changes and improvements in the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, the following preventive lifestyle changes can help:

1. Eating Healthy

Consuming low-calorie, low fat, and high fiber food can be a boon for prediabetics. Consider including more veggies, fruits, and whole grains in your diet.  

2. Get Active

If your health doesn’t allow you to indulge in energy-intensive physical activities, even minor activities like brisk walking can help a lot. Bicycling, running, swimming, etc., can be other options. 

3. Avoid Sitting in a Still Position for Long  

It might be surprising, but sitting still in the same position for long hours can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. The best way to avoid it is by getting up and taking a 5-minute walk around every 30-40 minutes.

Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Type two diabetes is very common among people these days. It was very rare in children and teenagers some time ago and that’s why it was called adult-onset diabetes. However, now type 2 diabetes has become common in children too because of the present lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits. This lead to more young people being either overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese are the signs of type 2 diabetes and has always been a risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes. Children are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes if they are not involved in exercise and physical activity, have unhealthy eating habits and if someone in the family history or a close relative is diabetic.

Bottomline

Type 2 diabetes is probably the most common type of diabetes a person can get, but its adverse effects are not less than the more severe ones. To help people like you stay informed and safe, we’ve listed above what exactly is type 2 diabetes, its causes, symptoms, risk factors, and more. If you notice any symptom in your body, start taking the preventive measures discussed above at the earliest. You can also visit a doctor if you feel necessary. Read in detail about the diabetes symptoms in women and diabetes symptoms men.

FAQs

How does type 2 diabetes start? 

Type 2 diabetes starts when the body does not respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas in the way it should. The glucose that is present in the body is not utilized correctly by the body leading to high sugar levels in the blood that eventually causes insulin resistance triggering type 2 diabetes. The early symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst and urination, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing sores, etc. 

What is the biggest cause of type 2 diabetes?

The two main reasons behind the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes include either the pancreas being unable to produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels in the body or the cells present in your muscles, fat, and liver are unable to utilize the insulin produced by pancreas leading to insulin resistance. Simply due to the high build-up of sugar in your bloodstream, your pancreas releases more quantity of insulin and as the cells are unable to absorb this insulin and sugar present in the blood, the sugar level in the blood increases causing type 2 diabetes. 

Which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes? 

There is no comparison as to which type of diabetes is worse than the other. If a person fails to control the sugar levels then both types of diabetes can have severe complications. However, in terms of reversing diabetes, type 1 cannot be reversed but early detection of type 2 diabetes can be reversed by making lifestyle changes. This does not mean that Type 1 is more dangerous than type 2 as when the sugar levels are left unattended in both cases it can cause life-threatening repercussions.

What are the symptoms of type 2?

The type 2 diabetes symptoms are frequent urination, fatigue, increased thirst, increased hunger, blurred vision, sudden weight loss or weight gain, frequent infections, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, areas of darkened skin in the armpit and neck area, and slow-healing sores. When the blood sugar levels are extremely high or low, some people may feel dizzy. In some people with type 2 diabetes, there are no signs of any symptoms unless the glucose levels spike high or dropdown.

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