When Should I Call My Doctor
If you havent been diagnosed with diabetes, you should see your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms of diabetes. If you already have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should contact your provider if your blood glucose levels are outside of your target range, if current symptoms worsen or if you develop any new symptoms.
Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented
You can take steps to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight, eating fewer calories, and being more physically active. If you have a condition which raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, managing that condition may lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
When To Call A Professional
If you have diabetes, see your doctor regularly.
People with high blood sugar levels have a higher risk of dehydration. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop vomiting or diarrhea and are not able to drink enough fluids.
Monitor your blood sugar as advised by your health care team. Report any significant deviations in blood sugar levels.
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Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes
While there are some risk factors for type 2 diabetes that are out of your control , there are certain lifestyle choices that can also put you at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some of these include:
- Living with excess weight. When youre living with excess weight, you most likely have more fatty tissue, which can make your cells more resistant to insulin.
- Living a more sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity helps your cells respond better to insulin.
- Eating a lot of highly processed foods. Highly processed foods can have a lot of hidden sugar and refined carbs. If your life requires a more grab-and-go type of eating style, talk with your doctor or a dietician about nutritious swaps.
Check If You Have Type 2 Diabetes
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- feeling thirsty all the time
- feeling very tired
- losing weight without trying to
- cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:
- have a close relative with diabetes
- are overweight or obese
- are of Asian, African-Caribbean or black African origin
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Who Should Be Tested
Early testing for diabetes is important since the disease is reversible. Lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and incorporating regular exercise to lose weight, can help. Many people with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it, so if you’re experiencing diabetes symptoms or are at risk, it’s a good idea to get tested for diabetes.
Reasons to be tested for type 2 diabetes include:
- Having overweight or obesity
- Impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or prediabetes diagnosis
- Blood pressure reading of 140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol lower than 35 mg/dL or a triglyceride level 250 mg/dL or higher
- Family members with diabetes
- Identify as a race or ethnicity with a higher prevalence of diabetes diagnoses
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
Managing type 2 diabetes requires teamwork. Youll need to work closely with your doctor, but a lot of the results depend on your choices.
Your doctor may want to perform periodic blood tests to determine your blood glucose levels. This will help determine how well youre managing the condition. If you take medication, these tests will help gauge how well its working.
Your doctor may also recommend a home monitoring system to test your own blood glucose levels between visits. Theyll explain to you how often you should use it and what your target range should be.
Because diabetes can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, your doctor may want to monitor your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. If you have symptoms of heart disease, you may need additional tests. These tests may include an electrocardiogram or a cardiac stress test.
It may also be helpful to bring your family into the loop. Educating them about the warning signs of blood glucose levels that are too high or too low will allow them to help in an emergency.
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Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
If your test results show you have prediabetes, ask your doctor or nurse if there is a lifestyle change program offered through the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program in your community. You can also search for an online or in-person program. Having prediabetes puts you at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but participating in the program can lower your risk by as much as 58% .
Health Problems Linked To Type 2 Diabetes
If your blood sugar is frequently imbalanced, you may be at a greater risk for the following type 2 diabetes complications.
Diabetic retinopathy In diabetic retinopathy, high blood sugar weakens the capillaries that supply the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye.
The capillaries then swell, become blocked, or leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision. In advanced stages, abnormal new blood vessels grow.
Diabetic neuropathy Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can affect any nerve in your body. Most commonly, it affects the nerves in the feet, legs, hands, and arms this condition is called peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy can cause tingling, burning, pain, or numbness in the affected areas.
The pain of peripheral neuropathy is difficult to control, though some find topical products that contain capsaicin to be helpful.
Diabetic nephropathy In diabetic nephropathy, the nephrons in the kidneys become damaged from chronic high blood sugar.
High blood pressure compounds the problem, and high cholesterol appears to contribute to it as well.
In the early stages of diabetic nephropathy, you may not notice any symptoms, but standard blood and urine tests can detect early signs of dysfunction, and early treatment can stop or slow its progression.
Diabetic ulcer People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing foot ulcers .
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How Is Type 2 Diabetes Managed
Theres no cure for Type 2 diabetes. But you can manage the condition by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking medication if needed. Work with your healthcare provider to manage your:
- Blood sugar: A blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitoring can help you meet your blood sugar target. Your healthcare provider may also recommend regular A1c tests, oral medications , insulin therapy or injectable non-insulin diabetes medications.
- Blood pressure: Lower your blood pressure by not smoking, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Your healthcare provider may recommend blood pressure medication such as beta blockers or ACE inhibitors.
- Cholesterol: Follow a meal plan low in saturated fats, trans fat, salt and sugar. Your healthcare provider may recommend statins, which are a type of drug to lower cholesterol.
You Can Live A Long Healthy Life With Diabetes
If youve just been told you have type 2 diabetes and youre not sure what that future looks like, thats completely understandable. What you should know is that diabetes care and treatment has come a long way in reducing the impact of diabetes on peoples lives. People with diabetes are living longer, healthier lives with fewer complications. And with the help of diabetes self-management education and support services, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and support needed to successfully manage diabetes.
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What Problems Can Happen With Type 2 Diabetes
Not having the right amount of sugar in the blood can lead to:
- hyperglycemia. This is when blood sugars are too high. Kids with hyperglycemia may be extra thirsty and pee more than usual. If high blood sugars arent treated, kids can get very sick and have health issues later in life, like heart and kidney problems.
- diabetic ketoacidosis . This serious condition needs treatment right away. When theres not enough insulin in the body to let the glucose into the cells, the body starts to break down fat instead of sugar. Symptoms of DKA can include nausea, vomiting, belly pain, fast breathing, and in severe cases, unconsciousness. DKA happens more often in people with type 1 diabetes, but it can sometimes happen to kids with type 2 diabetes.
- hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state . Like DKA, this is a serious condition that needs treatment right away. People with HHS have severe dehydration and very high blood sugars.
- hypoglycemia. This is when blood sugars are too low. It can sometimes happen when people with type 2 diabetes are treated with insulin. If a person with diabetes gets more insulin than they need, their blood sugar level can drop too low. Symptoms can include headache, weakness, shakiness, anxiety, and sweating.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The oral glucose tolerance test measures your blood sugar before and after you drink a sugary liquid thats specially formulated for the test. Like the fasting plasma glucose test, youll be required to fast overnight beforehand.
When you arrive at your appointment, youll first undergo a fasting blood sugar test. Then youll drink the sugary liquid. After youre done, your doctor will test your blood sugar levels periodically for several hours.
This test detects diabetes better than other tests, such as the fasting plasma glucose test. But its more costly and takes longer than other blood sugar tests.
For an oral glucose tolerance test, heres what your results could mean:
|Oral glucose tolerance
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What Is Type 2 Diabetes
People who are middle-aged or older are most likely to get this kind of diabetes. It used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But type 2 diabetes also affects kids and teens, mainly because of childhood obesity.
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. There are about 29 million people in the U.S. with type 2. Another 84 million have prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar is high but not high enough to be diabetes yet.
Occurrence In The United States
According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report, the crude prevalence of diabetes in the adult US population is 14.7%. It was estimated that 11.3% of the adult population have actually been diagnosed, while 3.4% of adults have undiagnosed diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes rises with age, reaching 29.2% in persons aged 65 years or older. Data employed in the report were drawn from 2017-2020.
Prediabetes, as defined by the American Diabetes Association, is that state in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It is presumed that most persons with prediabetes will subsequently progress to diabetes. The above-mentioned CDC report found the age-adjusted estimate for the prevalence of prediabetes in the adult US population to be 10.8%.
A study by Andes et al using a cross-sectional analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicated that in the United States, prediabetes exists in approximately 1 out of 5 adolescents and 1 out of 4 young adults.
However, a study by Liu et al reported a higher incidence of prediabetes in young people, revealing that in the United States by 2018, approximately 28% of individuals between ages 12 and 19 years had the condition this was up from less than 12% in 1999. A greater prevalence of prediabetes was found in males in this group and in youth with overweight or obesity.
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What Happens After The Diagnosis
Usually, the following things happen after your diagnosis:
A free education course for type 2 diabetes can help you manage your condition.
Page last reviewed: 18 August 2020 Next review due: 18 August 2023
What Are The Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes tend to develop slowly over time. They can include:
- Urinary tract infections and bladder infections.
Rarely, Type 2 diabetes leads to a condition called diabetes-related ketoacidosis . DKA is a life-threatening condition that causes your blood to become acidic. People with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to have DKA.
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What Tests Are Done To Diagnose Type 1 Diabetes
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Prognosis Of Type 2 Diabetes
Dont lose hope, though. You dont have to be a statistic. Receiving a prompt diagnosis can help you get your health on track and reduce your risk of complications.
Indeed, if you take care to manage your blood sugar by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, taking your prescribed medication, and losing weight, you may find your quality of life to be better with diabetes than it was before your diagnosis.
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Non Fasting Blood Tests
An HbA1c test is the main blood test used to diagnose diabetes. It tests your average blood sugar levels for the last two to three months. You dont need to prepare for a HbA1c . Its a quick and simple test where a small amount of blood is taken from a vein in your arm. This is different to a finger-prick test, which is a snapshot of your blood sugar levels at that moment.
Youll normally get the test results in a few days. From these results, your healthcare professional will be able to see if you have diabetes. If you didnt have any of the symptoms of diabetes before you were tested, youll need to have the test again to confirm the result.
You have diabetes if your HbA1c level is 48mmol/mol or above.
You are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if your HbA1c is between 42 and 48mmol/mol.
Random blood glucose test
If you have severe symptoms of diabetes, you may have a random blood test at any time of the day. This is a quick test, through a finger-prick or a vein in your arm.
If you have a finger-prick test, youll get the results straight away. If you have a blood test through a vein in your arm, youll get the results in a few days.
You or your loved one have diabetes if your blood glucose levels are 11.1mmol/l or more – regardless of how recently you ate.
But any diagnosis from a finger prick test will need to be confirmed by a blood test sent to a laboratory for results.
If You’re Diagnosed With Diabetes
What the GP will discuss with you during your appointment depends on the diagnosis and the treatment they recommend.
Generally, they’ll talk to you about:
- what diabetes is
- what high blood sugar means for your health
- whether you need to take medicine
- your diet and exercise
- your lifestyle for example, alcohol and smoking
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Random Blood Sugar Test
The random blood sugar test is also known as the random or casual plasma glucose test. It is typically used when someone is experiencing severe diabetes symptoms and is taken any time of the day regardless of whether they have recently eaten. This test does not differentiate between the normal range and the prediabetes range.
Instead, a result of 200 mg/dL or more is considered diabetic. If the results are below the level that indicates diabetes, your healthcare provider may suggest another test to screen for prediabetes.
Healthy Eating For Type 2 Diabetes
A dietitian or your doctor will be able to advise you on what to eat to meet your nutritional needs and control your blood sugar. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a registered dietitian for personalised advice.
Eating healthy foods with a low glycaemic index can help to optimise your blood sugar levels. This includes wholegrain breads, minimally processed breakfast cereals like rolled or steel cut oats, legumes, fruit, pasta and dairy products.
Avoid high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient foods such as cakes, lollies and soft drinks, and eat a diet low in saturated fat.
You should eat at regular times of the day and may also need snacks. Try to match the amount of food you eat with the amount of activity you do, so that you dont put on weight.
If you are overweight or obese, losing even 5-10 per cent of your body weight can significantly improve blood sugar control.
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