Type 2 diabetes, previously known as “adult-onset diabetes,” is a chronic condition characterized by the body’s inability to produce a normal amount of insulin, a hormone that converts food into energy, or when insulin resistance develops. Type 2 diabetes has no cure, but you can manage it through proper diet, prescription medications and strict blood sugar regulation. Left untreated, diabetes can adversely affect major organs, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.
Here are some facts about the serious complications of Type 2 diabetes:
- Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20 to 74 years of age.
- Diabetic adults have heart disease death rates about two to four times those of adults without diabetes.
- The rate of amputation in people with diabetes is 10 times higher than in people without diabetes.
Diabetes symptoms develop very slowly; you may have Type 2 diabetes for years and not even realize it. If you’re in a high-risk category, a medical screening test is very important.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Normally, insulin regulates the movement of sugar or glucose into cells. In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t create enough insulin to effectively manage glucose levels. Eventually, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to complications.
Typical diabetes symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Darkened skin
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger and thirst
- Slow-healing sores and infections
- Weight loss.
Not all sufferers experience these diabetes symptoms, especially in the early stages. Health screening is crucial to diagnosing and treating the condition.
Who is at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?
The following lifestyle and genetic factors may put some people at a higher risk than others for developing Type 2 diabetes:
- Being over age 45
- Being overweight, with a body mass index of 25 or higher
- Being under age 65 and getting little or no exercise
- Having a close family member, such as a parent, child or sibling, with diabetes
- Having a diagnosis of gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Having had a baby weighing more than nine pounds.
African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives and older adults have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes.
How Does Type 2 Diabetes Screening Work?
You must fast for at least eight hours before this medical screening test. During a health screening for Type 2 diabetes, a technician performs a simple finger-stick blood test to take a blood sample and measure your blood sugar levels.
After your medical screening test, you’ll discuss your results with your doctor and identify a treatment plan, if necessary. Normal glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dL. A higher reading, typically between 100 and 125 mg/dL, may indicate pre-diabetes. Readings of 126 mg/dL and higher are abnormal and could indicate full-blown diabetes.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent Type 2 diabetes. Follow a low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. If you’re overweight, losing weight may decrease your risk of developing this condition.
American Diabetes Association. (2010). Diabetes basics: Type 2. Retrieved August 29, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/.
LifeLine Screening. (n.d.). Glucose screening for type 2 diabetes. Retrieved August 29, 2010, from http://www.lifelinescreening.com/health-screening-services/type-2-diabetes.aspx?WT.svl=1.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved August 29, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-2-diabetes/DS00585.