Type 2 diabetes is different to type 1 although it’s important to bear in mind that all forms of diabetes are considered serious. With type 2 diabetes, the body can make some insulin (the hormone we use to regulate our blood sugar levels). However not enough is made by the pancreas and it doesn’t work as well as it should.
The result is that our blood sugar levels continue to rise. It is a condition with no current cure.
The most common type of diabetes and the most preventable
Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes accounting for around 90% of all cases. It can surface slowly and is more common in white people over the age of 40 but at a younger age (around 25) for Black African, African-Caribbean and South Asians. Individuals might also be more at risk if there is a history of diabetes in their family.
Often there may be no obvious symptoms. As a result, it can be many years before an individual finds out that they have it. If left undiagnosed it can lead to a range of serious problems with nerves, eyes, feet and vital organs like the kidneys and heart.
It is impossible to control factors such as age, ethnicity and family history. There is plenty we can do today to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One of the most important is eating a healthy, balanced diet as part of a plan to lose weight or stay at a weight that is healthy for each of us.
The importance of a healthy, active lifestyle
There are strong links between obesity and type 2 diabetes, particularly in cases where that extra weight is carried around the waist. A healthy balanced diet is one of the best things we can do to avoid the risk of becoming diabetic.
Some people with type 2 diabetes manage it by eating healthier. In some circumstances individuals who adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle can manage to put their diabetes into remission. It can be controlled well with lifestyle changes. However most will need medication eventually to reduce the levels of sugar in their blood to safer target levels.
Some forms of medication help the pancreas to produce insulin whilst others may help you to lose weight. Your GP, in consultation with you will decide which course of action is best suited to your situation.
Changes to look out for
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes vary and its rare that two people will have the same early warning signs. They can include increased visits to the loo, especially during the night, feeling thirsty or hungry more often, fatigue, itching and thrush around the genital area, problems with eyesight and unexplained weight loss. Cuts and minor injuries may also take longer to heal or stop bleeding.
If you or your child has any symptoms of type 2 diabetes or if you have concerns, contact your GP. You can also visit the diabetes.org website for a wealth of useful resources.