Type 2 Diabetes: The 6 Signs and Symptoms to Watch For
Uncontrolled diabetes can affect the kidneys, eyes, heart and can even be fatal. Fortunately, there are risk factors to keep in mind and signs and symptoms to stay aware of to avoid severe health complications.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease when the body's cells are unable to utilize glucose in the absence or resistance of insulin. Insulin can be thought of as a key to cells, allowing glucose to enter from the blood stream after ingestion of carbohydrate sources. Without insulin or the "key," glucose (the body's primary source of energy) starts to build up in the blood, hence having "high blood sugar." If left uncontrolled, the body can suffer further from conditions affecting the kidneys, eyes, and heart. Uncontrolled diabetes can even be fatal. Fortunately, there are risk factors to keep in mind and signs and symptoms to stay aware of to avoid severe health complications.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors and Development
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other comorbidities. Furthermore, weight carried in the abdominal area may also increase the risk.
Lack of exercise may increase the risk of diabetes, primarily contributed to an increased potential for weight gain. Additionally, physical activity can also improve insulin resistance and improve blood sugar levels.
Family History & Genetics
If diabetes runs in your family or genes, there is an increased risk of developing diabetes.
African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders are more susceptible to diabetes than other races and ethnicities.
With advancing age, particularly after 45, comes an increased risk of diabetes. The increase may be related to a slower metabolism and weight gain. On the other hand, especially with obesity on the rise, children and adolescents are increasing their likelihood of developing diabetes.
Catching high blood sugars early can reduce the risk of a diabetes diagnosis. Although signs and symptoms are typically absent in prediabetes, the above risk factors are still prevalent in prediabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a condition diagnosed in some pregnant women, often related to changes in hormones. If gestational diabetes arises in pregnancy, women are more at risk of developing diabetes after the baby is born.
6 Signs and Symptoms to Watch For
Although diabetes requires a medical diagnosis, there are signs and symptoms to watch out for. If you or someone you know experience any of the following listed below, be sure to make an appointment with a healthcare professional.
1. Increased Thirst
Also known as polydipsia, extreme thirst and excessive dryness of the mouth are noticeable characteristics of diabetes.
2. Frequent Urination
With increased thirst and fluid consumption, aligns and parallel more frequent trips to the restroom.
3. Weight Loss
With glucose continuously remaining in the blood and excreted through urination, calories (or energy from the glucose) are not absorbed into the body and may lead to weight loss.
Glucose is the body's primary energy fuel. Since glucose is unable to enter the cells, energy loss is a common consequence of diabetes.
5. Blurred Vision
High blood sugar levels can cause the lens of the eye to swell. Although typically temporary, the swelling may alter the ability to see and disrupt vision.
6. Darkened Skin
Also known as acanthosis nigricans, this condition causes a dark, velvety rash. These darkened areas are particularly prominent around the neck and armpits regions.
Treatment and How to Manage
Diabetes can be diagnosed based on three criterions - A1C, fasting plasma glucose, or oral glucose tolerance.
The A1C test is also known as hemoglobin A1c. HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. The test is based on a percentage and reflects the individual's average blood glucose over the past three months. The test does not indicate daily fluctuations and should not be used to diagnosis gestational diabetes.
• Normal: About 5%
• Prediabetes: 5.7 to 6.4%
• Diabetes: 6.5% or greater
The fasting blood glucose test (FPG) measures blood sugar levels after the individual has fasted for at least eight hours and most reliable when administered in the morning. The FPG is used to measure prediabetes, diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
• Normal: 99 mg/dL or below
• Prediabetes or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG): 100 to 125 mg/dL
• Diabetes: 126 mg/dL or greater, confirmed diagnosis on two separate occasions
The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) measures glucose levels after an eight hour fast and two hours after drinking 75 grams of glucose dissolved in water. Like the FPG, the OGTT can be used to diagnose prediabetes, diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
• Normal: 139 mg/dL or below
• Prediabetes: 140 to 199 mg/dL
• Diabetes: 200 mg/dL or greater, confirmed by a second test
After a medical diagnosis, medications may be prescribed to manage blood sugar levels such as insulin and metformin, a kind of diabetes pill the American Diabetes Association (ADA) typically recommends individuals start on. However, a complete lifestyle change is beneficial in not only diabetes management, but for overall good health. A balanced diet and exercise can keep blood sugar levels within normal limits and promote weight loss. Losing weight can further control and manage diabetes.
When it comes to diet, individuals often assume carbohydrates are completely off limits. That notion is far from the truth and following it may be harmful. The body NEEDS carbohydrates to keep blood sugars stabilized. Incorporate healthful carbohydrates and keep portions and snacks steady throughout the day. Whole grains, fruits and veggies, and low-fat dairy products are ideal carbohydrate sources over chips and sweets. Pairing a carbohydrate source with a lean protein can further regulate blood sugar levels.