Type 2 Diabetes

Living with Sugar Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus occurs when there is too much glucose (a form of sugar) in the blood. Glucose is our main source of fuel for the body and comes from foods containing carbohydrate. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. This hormone is responsible for lowering the levels of glucose in the blood.

When the pancreas is unable to manufacture insulin or the insulin is unable to work effectively, diabetes mellitus develops. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is sometimes called insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile onset diabetes. Those with Type 1 diabetes will need insulin to control their blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes has sometimes been called non-insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus or mature age onset diabetes. As this name suggests, Type 2 diabetes often shows up as middle age approaches. Eighty-five percent of those with diabetes suffer from Type 2.

There are several factors which increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These are:
* a family history of the disease
* being over 50 years of age
* being overweight
* having had a child weighing over 9lbs or 4kgs at birth.

There are some key signs which, taken together, can suggest the presence of diabetes. Increased thirst, frequent urination, slow healing of cuts, itching and skin infections, blurred vision, constant hunger but unexplained weight loss, and feeling tired and lethargic are the main signs to watch for.

Treatment in the first instance usually involves losing weight if necessary, changing eating habits, and regular physical activity. These factors alone may keep the disease in check for some time but most sufferers will eventually be prescribed medication. This usually takes the form of tablets although insulin injections may be needed as the disease progresses.  The good news is that tablets can now be used to replace some or all injections.

It is important to take responsibility for one’s own control of diabetes and to learn as much as possible about the disease and how diet and exercise can help. Monitoring blood glucose levels and having regular checks with either your medical practitioner and/or the members of the diabetes team will help you keep up to date with your condition.

The aims of treatment are firstly to keep blood glucose levels within as normal as range as possible. These levels are generally considered to be between 3.5 and 8 mmol/L. Blood glucose test kits to use at home are readily available and are helpful in understanding how your levels fluctuate according to your diet and the level of exercise you undertake. Controlling blood glucose levels will prevent the short term effects of fluctuating high and low blood sugar and the long term complications which are much more serious. The eyes, kidneys and/or nerves can all be affected by long term diabetes. Many in their 70s and 80s suffer from ulcerated legs and the majority of these sufferers are diabetic.

While the early damage done by Type 2 diabetes is insidious and, on the surface, somewhat minor, ignoring treatment plans can have devastating effects over time. High blood glucose levels prevent blood from getting to the tiny capillaries in the body, and particularly in the extremities of the body – the fingers and toes. The minute capillaries in the eyeball become starved of blood too resulting in impaired vision and eventual blindness. Fingers and toes become numb, any damage is slow to heal and gangrene and amputation are all too common for those who chose to disregard the disease.