What is Type 2 diabetes?

Updated at: Jan 13, 2014
What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a common disorder that affects the way the body processes and uses carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Written by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Nov 24, 2011

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that is characterised by abnormally high levels of blood sugar (glucose). There are many types of diabetes, but type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It can be considered as a modern day epidemic.

Diabetes is caused due to lack of insulin or the resistance of the cells to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. The hormone insulin helps the cells to utilise the glucose in the blood and keeps the blood glucose under control. Glucose is a type of simple sugar present in the blood and is used by the cells of the body for energy to stimulate the proper functioning of the body cells. In people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produce insulin (may be more or in enough quantity) in the initial stages, but the cells of the body do not respond effectively to insulin. This is called insulin resistance and this causes rise in blood sugar levels. After a few years as the disease progresses, insulin production in type 2 diabetes decreases.

The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not known, but people with type 2 diabetes are likely to have a positive family history of the disease. Some other factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes are age (risk starts to increase by the age of 45 years and rises considerably after age 65 years), other diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, history of gestational diabetes, unhealthy eating habits, excessive alcohol intake and a sedentary lifestyle.

Type 2 diabetes progresses slowly over time and can be asymptomatic. Therefore, many people with this disease may not be aware for several years that they infected with diabetes. Some early symptoms that are suggestive of diabetes include:

  • Excessive hunger.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Increased urination.
  • Fatigue.
  • Slow healing of sore or infections.
  • Frequent infections (of the bladder, kidney, skin or other infections).

If your doctor suspects that you have diabetes, tests to measure the blood glucose levels will be done. The tests, which may be done to diagnose diabetes are:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG).
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
  • Random plasma glucose test.

According to experts, the criteria for diagnosing diabetes are satisfied if any of the following results are obtained on at least two different days:

  • Fasting blood glucose level: > is 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) ,
  • 2-housr oral glucose tolerance test level: > is 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L),
  • Symptoms of diabetes along with random blood glucose test levels > is 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L).

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor will recommend lifestyle modifications and exercise;,  if needed, medications (oral or insulin therapy) as well. Aim of treatment is to keep the blood glucose level as close to normal as possible and delay or prevent complications due to high blood glucose.

Read more articles on Understand Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus



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