Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high levels of blood sugar (glucose) due to the body's inability to effectively use insulin or produce enough of it. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels by allowing cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy.
In type 2 diabetes, several factors contribute to the development of the condition:
Insulin Resistance: The cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin. This means that even though insulin is present, the cells do not respond properly, and glucose cannot enter the cells effectively. As a result, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream.
Pancreas Dysfunction: Over time, the pancreas may struggle to produce enough insulin to compensate for insulin resistance. This can lead to reduced insulin secretion and further contribute to elevated blood sugar levels.
Genetics and Lifestyle: Genetics can play a role in a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, lifestyle factors such as obesity, sedentary behavior, poor diet, and lack of physical activity significantly increase the risk. Excess body weight, especially around the abdomen, is a major risk factor.
Age and Ethnicity: Type 2 diabetes is more common in individuals over the age of 45. Some ethnic groups, including people of African, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian descent, are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Slow wound healing
- Recurrent infections
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health complications if not managed properly. These complications may include cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), eye problems (diabetic retinopathy), and poor circulation that can lead to amputations.
Managing type 2 diabetes involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medication (if necessary), and regular medical check-ups. Treatment goals include:
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Following a balanced diet with controlled carbohydrate intake
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Monitoring blood sugar levels
- Taking prescribed medications as directed by a healthcare provider
With appropriate management, individuals with type 2 diabetes can lead healthy lives and reduce the risk of complications. Early diagnosis, education, and ongoing medical care are essential components of effective management.