Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body’s tissues become resistant to the function of insulin and/or the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. The hormone insulin is responsible for allowing glucose (a simple sugar) to move out of your bloodstream to fuel all the cells of your body. High levels of glucose that remain in the blood can cause major health issues, including severe diabetes symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common of all types of diabetes, accounting for about 90 percent of all cases of the disease in the United States, affecting approximately 6 percent of people age 20 to 74, and 12 percent of people age 40 or older.
The type 2 diabetic count is on the rise, likely due to rising obesity; most alarming is the increasing number of type 2 diabetic children.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Type 2 diabetes symptoms can develop gradually, and many people have this condition for years without being aware of it. Here are some common symptoms of type 2 diabetes in adults and children:
- Blurred vision: High blood sugar can pull fluid from the lenses of your eyes and limit your ability to focus.
- Fatigue: When sugar can’t move from the blood to feed the cells, a type 2 diabetic may feel tired and irritable.
- Frequent infections and slow healing sores: Type 2 diabetes impairs and slows the body’s healing and infection fighting systems.
- Intense hunger: Since your cells aren’t getting the necessary fuel, depleted muscles and tissues cry out for nourishment, causing frequent, extreme hunger in a type 2 diabetic.
- Increased thirst and frequent urination: When sugar levels in the bloodstream are high, fluid is pulled from your tissues, leaving you thirsty. As a result of drinking extra fluids, diabetes symptoms include frequent visits to the restroom.
- Patches of darkened skin: Often located in body creases, such as the neck or armpit, these dark patches may signal insulin resistance in a type 2 diabetic.
- Weight loss: Even if you are eating well, if your cells aren’t being nourished, your body will begin to feed on energy stored in your muscles and fat. When excess glucose exits the body through urine, a type 2 diabetic loses calories.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
As is the case with other types of diabetes, researchers are trying to determine exactly what causes type 2 diabetes. Certain environmental and genetic factors, however, are known to increase your risk of experiencing type 2 diabetes symptoms, such as:
- Ethnicity (African-American, Asian-American and Native-American heritage)
- Family health history
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
- Older age
- Western lifestyle.
A Western lifestyle may play a stronger role than genetics in the development of type 2 diabetes: People in high-risk ethnic groups that haven’t adopted a Western life style are surprisingly unlikely to develop this condition.
Treating Type 2 Diabetes
No cure currently exists for type 2 diabetes, or any other types of diabetes. Managing your blood sugar levels, however, can help you live a long and healthy life. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, treatment for diabetes symptoms will involve:
- Frequent blood sugar monitoring
- Healthy planned diet
- Regular exercise.
A type 2 diabetic may also need medication or insulin therapy to manage blood sugar levels.
American Diabetes Association. (2010). Genetics of diabetes. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/genetics-of-diabetes.html.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-2-diabetes/DS00585.
UpToDate. (n.d.). Patient information: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview. Retrieved March 21, 2010, from http://www.utdol.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~X0jjLnBn4._ko.