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  • What is Type 2 Diabetes?

    Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, or when the body is unable to use insulin in the right way. Type 2 diabetes often develops in people who are overweight and physically inactive.
  • What is Insulin?

    Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Insulin is responsible for transferring glucose from the blood into the body's cells, where it can be stored or used for energy. If there isn't enough insulin, or if the insulin isn't being used properly, glucose will not reach the cells, and your blood sugar levels will begin to rise. Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to problems with your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.
  • What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

    People who suffer from diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes), their body doesn't produce enough, or it cannot use insulin effectively (type2 diabetes).
    Type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 10% of diabetic cases. In type 1 diabetes, the cells responsible for releasing insulin are mistakenly destroyed by the body's immune system. Over time, this process will completely eliminate insulin production within the body. Without any insulin, the body's cells are unable to absorb any glucose from the blood, which they require in order to produce energy.
    Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition, affecting around 90% of total diabetic cases. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, though in most cases the condition doesn't become apparent until adulthood. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use insulin in the correct way. This is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance. As the condition progresses, the pancreas may start to produce less insulin, which is referred to as insulin deficiency.
    There is another form of diabetes known as gestational diabetes. This form of the condition develops during pregnancy and usually resolves after the baby is born.
  • What are the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?

    In some cases, type 2 diabetes may not present with any symptoms in its early stages. Many people with the condition are unaware that they even have it. However, over time, as the condition progresses, symptoms will start to become apparent.
    Common symptoms of high blood glucose include:
    • Excessive thirst
    • Lethargy
    • Frequent need to urinate
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Blurred vision
    The severity of these symptoms will be directly linked to the amount of glucose in the blood. The higher the levels, the more likely you are to experience symptoms.
  • When should I get tested for Type 2 Diabetes?

    It is recommended to be tested for type 2 diabetes if:
    • You present with any of the associated symptoms
    • You are over 40 years of age and overweight.
    • You are younger than 40 years old, but your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or more.
    • You suffer from high blood pressure.
    • You have a family history of diabetes.
    • You have suffered gestation diabetes.
    • You have given birth to a baby weighing more than 10lbs (4.5 kg).
    • You have a history of heart disease.
    • You have a history of high blood sugars.
    • You have a history of polycystic ovary syndrome
  • How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

    If you present with any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, it is advised to see your GP as soon as possible. After listening to your symptoms and reviewing your medical history, they will likely ask you relevant questions regarding your diet and current levels of physical activity. In addition, your doctor will likely perform a blood glucose test, which will determine whether any further testing is required.
    If your blood glucose levels are only marginally outside the normal ranges, your doctor may suggest monitoring your blood glucose levels at home for a week or two. This will help gauge whether the high reading was anomalous, or whether your blood glucose levels are consistently at that level. If the results of your blood glucose tests are significantly higher than the normal range, your doctor will need to perform further tests in order to gain an informed diagnosis.
    This will likely be a blood test known as glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c). The HbA1c test will determine the amount of glucose being carried by the red blood cells for the preceding 2-3 months. A high result will enable your doctor to successfully diagnose type 2 diabetes.
  • What treatments are required to manage Type 2 Diabetes?

    Making adjustments to your diet and lifestyle will initially help manage type 2 diabetes, though many these changes will require medicinal supplements. This could be just one tablet or a combination of 2 or more. For some, type 2 diabetes will require injecting insulins or other medications. Examples of diabetic medicines are:
    • Metformin
    • Sulphonylureas
    • Pioglitazone
    • Gliptins (DPP-4 inhibitors)
    • GLP-1 agonists
    • SGLT2 inhibitors
    • Acarbose
  • Can Type 2 Diabetes be prevented?

    Around 90% of cases of type 2 diabetes could have been prevented by adopting a more healthy lifestyle and dietary habits. The best advice for preventing type 2 diabetes is to:
    • Maintain a healthy weight (BMI between 18.5-25).
    • Get plenty of exercise (at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week).
    • Reduce your intake of sugary foods.
    • Increase the amount of high fibre foods that you eat, such as wholegrain bread, fruit and vegetables.
    • Choose foods that are lower in fat. For example, replace butter with a low-fat spread.
    • Substitute sugary snacks for healthier ones. Instead of crisps and chocolate, try unsalted nuts and low- fat yogurts instead.
    • Alter your methods for cooking. Instead of frying foods, opt to grill, bake or steam instead.
  • Can Type 2 Diabetes be cured?

    Making certain lifestyle and dietary changes will certainly help manage type 2 diabetes, though whether the condition can be cured is a different matter. It would be more accurate to say diabetes can be reversed rather than cured. The term reversal is used when sufferers are able to come off medication after having adopted dietary and lifestyle changes. However, the condition must still be managed through these changes in order to stay off the medication.
  • What problems could Type 2 Diabetes cause?

    If type 2 diabetes isn't managed or treated properly, it can lead to a variety of other health issues.
    Even mildly raised levels of glucose in the blood can still potentially have long-term damaging effects on your health. These include:
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Nerve damage
    • Diabetic retinopathy
    • Kidney disease
    • Foot problems, such as foot ulcers
    • Sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido
  • What do I look for when I test my blood glucose levels?

    A blood glucose test will measure how many millimoles of glucose are present in one litre of blood.
    This measurement will help identify the concentration of glucose in the blood, and will be expressed as mmol/l. The normal ranges for blood glucose level are:
    • Between 4-6mmol/l before meals
    • Less than 10mmol/l 2 hours after meals.
  • When should pregnant women be screened for Gestational Diabetes?

    During your first antenatal appointment (8-12 weeks), your doctor or midwife will ask specific questions to determine whether you're at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. The risk factors include:
    • A body mass index of 30 or greater.
    • Having previously delivered a baby weighing more than 10lbs (4.5kg).
    • Having suffered from gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
    • Having a blood relative with the condition.
    • Your heritage is of Asian, Chinese, middle-eastern, or African-Caribbean descent.
    Should one or more of these risk factors be present, your doctor or midwife should offer you a screening test for gestational diabetes.

Authored By:

A photo of  Chris Newbury

Chris Newbury

BPharm IP

Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Chris is a vastly experienced clinical pharmacist and has been registered as an Independent Prescriber since 2014.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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