Being aware of the early signs of type 2 diabetes can help you better manage the disease. This starts with understanding what type 2 diabetes is and how it affects you. Generally, diabetes refers to a group of diseases in which your blood glucose levels are too high. Blood glucose is a simple sugar and an important element in carbohydrates. Since blood glucose is your body’s main source of energy, insulin plays a critical role in extracting this energy from the food you eat to your cells. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by your pancreas and is lacking for those individuals with diabetes. When this happens, glucose remains in your blood at high levels and never makes it to your cells for your body to function properly.
Types of Diabetes
According to the Diabetes Research Institute, over 34 million Americans have diabetes and an estimated 26 million people have been diagnosed. It’s important to note that diabetes affects all ethnic, social, and economic groups and is the 7th leading cause of death. In 2018, the Diabetes Research Institute reports that 1.5 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed for Americans 18 and older.
As noted above, there are several types of diabetes. However, they all cause the same symptoms and health concerns. We’ve listed the most common below:
- Type 1 – When you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin at all. In fact, your immune system attacks and destroys the cells responsible for creating the much-needed insulin your body needs. This form of diabetes is most common in children and young adults. However, it can appear at any age and accounts for over 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Insulin is needed every day to stay alive.
- Type 2 – When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or utilize insulin properly. This form of diabetes can form at any age but is most common in middle-aged and older individuals. The Diabetes Research Institute reports that the number of children and adolescents diagnosed between the ages of 10 – 19 with type 2 diabetes annually is over 5,700. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes.
- Gestational – This form of diabetes develops in pregnant women but goes away after pregnancy. However, this makes mothers more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes later in life. In many cases, the initial diagnosis is type 2 diabetes.
- Less common – Some less common forms of diabetes are monogenetic and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes. Monogenetic is an inherited form of diabetes and is rare. It is the result of mutations in a single gene and accounts for around 2% of all diabetes cases. Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes causes scarring of the pancreas, preventing it from producing insulin properly. This adversely causes you to become insulin deficient.
Early Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
With over 9% of the population impacted by some form of diabetes, it’s important to know the early signs of type 2 diabetes. Since it is the most common form among Americans, managing type 2 diabetes can effectively lead to a healthy and productive life. Diabetes was reported as the underlying cause of death in over 270,000 people in 2017. It’s safe to say that catching and recognizing health issues earlier can make a big difference. When your blood sugar levels reach a range of 100 – 125 milligrams, doctors typically refer to you as a prediabetic. Since normal blood sugar levels fall between 70 – 99 milligrams, these numbers are higher than normal. Those with prediabetes are clearly at higher risk for type 2 diabetes but don’t experience the symptoms of those with full diabetes. Still, the risk factors and early warning signs are similar to those with the disease. Below, you will find several symptoms of diabetes type 2 in adults to be aware of:
- Having a family history of diabetes
- History of high blood pressure
- Diagnosed with gestational diabetes
- Giving birth to a child over nine pounds
- Being overweight
- Having a history of polycystic ovary syndrome
- Being of African American, Native American, Latin American, Asian Pacific Islander descent
- Over the age of 45
- Having a sedentary lifestyle
For those mothers with gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes symptoms don’t look any different than those who are not pregnant. Interestingly, in most cases, there are no symptoms. However, for those women who do experience signs and symptoms, this is what they look like:
- Blood sugar headache
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Slow-healing cuts and wounds
- Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands and feet
- Dark skin patches
- Blurred vision
- Sugar in urine (usually revealed on a check-up at your doctor’s office)
- The frequent bladder, vaginal, and skin infections
Diabetes Health Problems
Diabetes can cause serious health problems. Here is a list of those you should be aware of:
- Kidney damage
- Nerve damage/neuropathy
- Eye disease/vision loss
- Foot problems
- Heart disease
- Sexual issues
Type 2 diabetes starts somewhere. Insulin resistance is the result of a number of factors that are not always in your control. There are a few factors that can heighten the likelihood of developing diabetes type 2 diabetes:
- When an individual has a genetic disposition or is in an environment that may prevent their body from producing the necessary amount of insulin relative to the amount of glucose consumed, it is more likely that type 2 diabetes will develop.
- Your body may try to make excess insulin to process excess glucose.
- Your pancreas may not be able to keep up with extra demands to break down glucose causing it to circulate the body and cause damage.
- Your body’s insulin becomes less effective over time and blood glucose levels increase.
Insulin malfunction takes place over time for those with type 2 diabetes so doctors tend to suggest lifestyle changes prevent the disease from progressing. However, managing type 2 diabetes may require more effort depending on how advanced your illness is. Some effective ways of managing type 2 diabetes include:
- Healthy lifestyle changes – Making changes in your diet and exercise routine can go a long way in managing type 2 diabetes. Not only do these changes support weight loss and overall health, but they also encourage a balanced and active lifestyle that leads to long term benefits. Some ways to accomplish this is by eating nutritious foods that include lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and healthy fat sources. By refraining from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and recognizing signs of low blood sugar when exercising, you are more in control of maintaining your healthy lifestyle. Keeping track of your BMI or Body Mass Index will help you keep track of your progress.
- Insulin – You may still have to take insulin to make up for your body malfunctioning based on your doctor’s orders. Those prescriptions may require you to inhale or inject insulin to keep your blood sugar levels where they should be. Sometimes, long-acting insulin may be prescribed for those individuals who require low blood sugar levels on a consistent basis. Others will use short-acting insulin or a combination of the two. Regardless of the type used, a portable machine called a glucometer is a self-monitoring tool that allows you to manage your disease efficiently.
- Other prescriptions – Your doctor may prescribe other medicines like Metformin, sodium-glucose transporter inhibitors, or glucagon-like peptide receptor agonists. These medicines are meant to lower blood sugar while making insulin more effective.
Book an Appointment Today
Do you have diabetes or have you experienced any of the signs and symptoms listed above? Our services include comprehensive and annual exams as well as general and preventative health. We provide consultations, diagnostics, analysis, and treatment for diabetes. We recognize that managing diabetes is a comprehensive process that is successful through education, medical treatment, nutritional and exercise habits, and active monitoring. Diabetes is a growing epidemic in America with diagnoses increasing annually. Our team of board-certified physicians, seasoned medical professionals, and expert healthcare network will help you through this process by assessing the severity and monitoring the changes to get you to an optimal state.
Give us a call and request an appointment today!