Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. For many people (but not all) it can be prevented through following a healthy lifestyle.
While type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed and people with type 2 diabetes can and do live active and healthy lives.
Diabetes is the result of the body not creating enough insulin to keep blood glucose (sugar) levels in the normal range. Everyone needs some glucose in their blood, but if it’s too high it can damage your body over time.
In type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body don’t recognise the insulin that is present. The end result is the same: high levels of glucose in your blood.
For many people (but not all) type 2 diabetes can be prevented by making healthy food choices and staying active.
There is a clear link between type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) and / or disordered levels of fats (cholesterol) in the blood (the medical name for this is dyslipidaemia). This combination of diabetes with hypertension and dyslipidaemia is sometimes called ‘the Metabolic Syndrome’ or Syndrome X.
Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in adulthood usually after the ages of 30 – 40 years. However, increasing numbers of teenagers and children are developing type 2 diabetes.
Some groups of people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes:
You may have had type 2 diabetes for many years without realising it. Not everyone has symptoms. Symptoms may include:
If you have any of the above symptoms, discuss these with your
Diabetes is diagnosed by blood tests which can be organised through your
doctor. If you are very unwell you should seek medical assistance
If you have a blood relative with type 2 diabetes you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes yourself. However type 2 diabetes sometimes occurs in people who have no one in their family with the condition.
In people with type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood. But with good management, your blood glucose levels may go down to normal again. But this does not mean you are cured. Instead, a blood glucose level in your
target range shows that your treatment plan is working and that you are taking care of your diabetes.
In a nutshell: some people with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their diabetes through diet and exercise, or by taking tablet medication. However, eventually many people with type 2 will manage their diabetes with insulin as well.
Your doctor will advise you on what treatment is best for you, but whatever this may be, healthy food choices and staying active is important. The goal is to lower your blood glucose and improve your body’s use of insulin. This is achieved through:
The focus of your food choices and regular exercise is to achieve and maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Losing weight helps your body use insulin better. A lot more information about these things can be found in the “Managing Diabetes” section.
You may also have to take medication. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition. This means that over time you will gradually produce less and less insulin. Although you may be able to manage your blood glucose levels in the healthy range by eating healthy food and having regular exercise for a number of years, most people come to need tablets or insulin as well as
their food and exercise plan.
More information on staying well with diabetes and treatment can be found here.
When they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, most people feel very anxious, sad and fearful. That is perfectly natural.
Mixed in with these feelings may also be a sense of relief. Why? Well, there is a feeling of certainty that comes with finding out just what it is that has been wrong (when you have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes you may have
been unwell and tired for some time but haven’t known what the problem was). It can be a relief to get a diagnosis but also a shock to learn it is diabetes.
Your own personal experience plays an important part in how you will react to, and cope with, your diabetes. Many of you will know someone who had, or has, diabetes. How they coped (or not) will influence how you feel. People who successfully coped with diabetes will be positive role models for you. Those who had a bad diabetes experience, on the other hand, may
make you feel more fearful.
But, it’s important to remember that everyone has their own personal choices to make about the way they choose to live with their diabetes. The other thing to remember is that with increasing knowledge about diabetes, and ever more sophisticated tools to deal with diabetes, there never has been as ‘good’ a time to have diabetes as now (although it may not seem like it at the moment!). At this point in time, you’ve never had a better
opportunity to live a long, happy and healthy life.
Although most people are shaken by a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes many people come to see the diagnosis in a more positive light, as a wakeup call. It is often an incentive to become more active, to eat healthier food
and to manage your body weight.
It can also be an opportunity for you to make a positive difference to those around you, be they your friends or your immediate and larger family. You taking a positive and active approach to living with your diabetes can sometimes act to improve the health and happiness of your entire family group.
You can make a very practical difference too. The skills you learn to manage your diabetes may be the very skills your children or other family members need to prevent them developing type 2 diabetes at all.
Things you can do for yourself to help you cope with type 2 diabetes include: