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Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM)

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels, insulin resistance, and relative insulin deficiency. In type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells become resistant to the insulin that is produced, leading to impaired glucose uptake and utilization.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, comprising the majority of diabetes cases worldwide. It typically develops gradually over time, often in adulthood, although it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents, especially in those who are overweight or obese.

Risk factors

  1. Obesity: Excess body weight, particularly abdominal fat, increases the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

  2. Physical inactivity: Lack of regular physical activity can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  3. Genetics: Family history and genetic predisposition play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

  4. Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, particularly after age 45.

  5. Poor diet: Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fats can contribute to insulin resistance and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  6. Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms

  1. Frequent urination: Excess glucose in the blood is excreted through urine, leading to increased urination (polyuria).

  2. Excessive thirst: Increased urination can result in dehydration, leading to persistent thirst (polydipsia).

  3. Increased hunger: Despite eating, individuals may experience constant hunger (polyphagia) due to the body's inability to properly use glucose for energy.

  4. Unexplained weight loss: The body starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy when it cannot use glucose properly, leading to unintentional weight loss.

  5. Fatigue: Insufficient glucose in cells can result in fatigue and weakness, even with adequate food intake

  6. Blurry vision: High blood sugar levels can cause fluid to be pulled from the lenses of the eyes, affecting vision.

Diagnoses

  1. Symptoms: Individuals with type 2 diabetes may experience symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss or gain, fatigue, blurred vision, slow wound healing, and recurrent infections. However, many people with type 2 diabetes may not experience noticeable symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease.

  2. Blood tests: The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is confirmed through blood tests that measure blood glucose levels and other markers of diabetes. The following blood tests are commonly used for diagnosis:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test: This test measures blood glucose levels after an overnight fast. A fasting plasma glucose level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher on two separate occasions is diagnostic of diabetes.

  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test measures blood glucose levels before and after consuming a sugary drink. A blood glucose level of 200 mg/dL or higher two hours after drinking the sugary solution is diagnostic of diabetes.

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test: This blood test measures the average blood glucose levels over the past two to three months. A hemoglobin A1C level of 6.5% or higher is diagnostic of diabetes.

  1. Random plasma glucose test: In some cases, a random plasma glucose test may be used to diagnose diabetes if classic symptoms of hyperglycemia are present. A random plasma glucose level of 200 mg/dL or higher, along with symptoms of diabetes, is diagnostic of diabetes.

  2. Additional testing: Healthcare providers may also perform other tests to assess pancreatic function, insulin resistance, and complications associated with type 2 diabetes, such as lipid profiles, kidney function tests, and eye examinations.

Treatment options

If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems. Management of type 2 diabetes typically involves lifestyle modifications (such as diet and exercise), oral medications, and in some cases, insulin therapy. Early detection and management of type 2 diabetes are crucial for preventing complications and improving long-term outcomes.

Can exercise help?

Exercise can play a crucial role in managing type 2 diabetes by:

  1. Improves insulin sensitivity: Exercise helps the body use insulin more effectively, allowing glucose to enter cells more efficiently and lowering blood sugar levels.

  2. Lowers blood sugar levels: Physical activity causes muscles to contract, which stimulates glucose uptake and utilization, leading to lower blood sugar levels.

  3. Aids in weight management: Exercise burns calories and helps to control body weight, reducing insulin resistance and improving blood sugar control.

  4. Reduces cardiovascular risk: Regular exercise improves cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of heart disease, which is common in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

  5. Increases energy expenditure: Physical activity increases energy expenditure, helping to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

  6. Enhances mood and mental well-being: Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance overall mental well-being, important factors in managing diabetes.

  7. Improves overall health: Exercise has numerous health benefits beyond blood sugar control, including strengthening bones, improving sleep quality, and boosting immune function, all of which contribute to overall health and well-being.

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