What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body fails to properly use and store glucose. Formerly called ‘adult-onset’ or ‘non insulin-dependent’, Type 2 diabetes results when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance). This form of diabetes usually occurs in people who are over 40 years of age, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes, although today it is increasingly found in younger people.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Common symptoms include extreme thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, irritability, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, frequent skin, bladder or gum infections, wounds that don’t heal and extreme unexplained fatigue.

Who gets type 2 diabetes?

Risk factors include obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. Diabetes is more common among Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders. Also, women who develop diabetes while pregnant (a condition called gestational diabetes) are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

How is type 2 diabetes treated?

Type 2 diabetes is often treated with oral medication because many people with this type of diabetes make some insulin on their own. The pills people take to control type 2 diabetes do not contain insulin; instead, these medications are used to make the insulin that the body still produces more effective.

Some people with type 2 diabetes are treated with insulin injected with a syringe several times per day or delivered via an insulin pump. The goal of insulin therapy is to mimic the way the pancreas would produce and distribute its own insulin, if it were able to manufacture it. 

One of the key factors in Joslin’s treatment of diabetes is tight blood glucose control to get blood glucose readings as close to normal as safely possible. 

What kind of complications are people with diabetes susceptible to?

Blood travels throughout your body, and when too much glucose (sugar) is present, it disrupts the normal environment that the organ systems function within. If this problem—caused by a variety of factors—is left untreated, it can lead to a number of damaging complications such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and blood vessel disease that may require an amputation, nerve damage, and impotence in men.

The good news is that prevention plays an important role in warding off these complications. By maintaining tight control of your blood glucose, you’ll help your body function in the way that it would if you did not have diabetes. 

Can diabetes be prevented?

Research has shown that there are some ways of preventing type 2 diabetes, or at least delaying its onset. Lifestyle changes such as becoming more active – or staying active – and making sure your weight stays in a healthy range are two ways to help ward off type 2 diabetes.

The Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at Desert Regional Medical Center provides a variety of diabetes self-management education programs. For more information about classes, individual training, and community programs such as Just A Start, please call (760) 323.6881.

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