Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Tuesday 2 February 2021
Diabetes

Table of Contents


I. The Role of Glucose & Insulin

II. What’s the Difference Between Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes?

a. Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Occur?

III. Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

IV. Risk Factors

V. Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

VI. Treatments


The Role of Glucose and Insulin

Insulin and glucose are essential to the body’s processes. When the balance of these substances is off, type 2 diabetes may occur and cause several bodily complications. To better understand how diabetes occurs, it is essential to examine the importance of glucose and insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is made in the pancreas. It is responsible for turning your blood sugar (glucose) into energy. Insulin is also responsible for helping the body store glucose in the fat cells, liver, and muscles to use later. Once you eat, your glucose levels rise and trigger insulin release from the pancreas into the bloodstream. If the body does not have enough insulin to store glucose for energy, glucose stays in the blood, disrupting bodily processes. [1] 

Type 2 diabetes is also known as insulin resistance. This means that the body cannot take glucose from the blood and use it for energy. Type 2 diabetes occurs gradually, putting demands on the pancreas to produce insulin. Over time, this can wear out insulin-producing cells, leading to the use of insulin injections. These injections can help regulate insulin levels, but other medications may also help balance these substances in the body. [2]

Your doctor may recommend Farxiga (dapagliflozin), Onglyza (saxagliptin), or Glucophage XR (metformin ER). Read on to learn more about type 2 diabetes and treatments for this condition. [3]

someone eating a chocolate bar

What’s the Difference Between Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes?

Both of these conditions occur when the body cannot store and utilize glucose correctly. The main differences between the two conditions involve how and why they occur. Type 1 diabetes occurs mostly in children, adolescents, and sometimes older people. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease because the immune system attacks pancreatic cells that produce insulin. It cannot be prevented and is often hereditary. It is less common than type 2, occurring in around five percent of diabetes patients. 

Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes is more likely to occur with age. Type 2 can occur to anyone, and it is usually due to lifestyle factors. The CDC reports that 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. Around 25 percent of these people do not even know they have type 2 diabetes. [3] 

a. Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Occur?

As mentioned above, type 2 diabetes is defined as insulin resistance. Glucose that cannot enter the cells builds up in the blood. A buildup of glucose from persistent high blood glucose causes overexposure of insulin to the body. The more insulin present, the less responsive the body becomes and may not respond to insulin at all after a while. [3]

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 develop quite slowly, and people generally do not know they have diabetes until the condition is advanced and symptoms are severe. The most noticeable symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Increased thirst
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Darkened skin in the armpits and neck [4]

a person drinking out of water bottle

Risk Factors 

Several risk factors can contribute to your development of type 2. The most common risk factors involve your lifestyle choices, like diet and activity levels. Other risk factors include:

  • Fat distribution: If you carry fat in your abdomen rather than your hips and thighs, you may be at a greater risk. If you are a man and your waist circumference is above 40 inches or a woman with a waist above 35 inches, you are at risk.
  • Ethnicity: Researchers are not clear why, but those who have Native American, Hispanic, Black, or Pacific Islander heritage are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: Those over 45 years old are at an increased risk.
  • Pregnancy-related: Gestational diabetes may occur if you are pregnant and have high blood glucose levels.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: Having PCOS can cause irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, and obesity. These symptoms also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. [4]

Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes 

To properly diagnose type 2 diabetes, you have to take a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This test shows your blood sugar level for the past two to three months. A reading below 5.7 percent is normal, 5.7 to 6.4 is prediabetes, and 6.5 percent or higher indicates full diabetes. You will likely repeat an A1C test at least twice a year if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

You may also take a random blood sugar test or fasting blood sugar test. Both of these tests determine your blood sugar and risk of diabetes. Routine screenings for diabetes are recommended if you possess any risk factors. You should participate in routine testing if you fall into the following groups:

  • You are over 45 and overweight
  • If you are a woman who had gestational diabetes
  • If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes
  • Children who are overweight or obese [4]

a person measuring their waist with a tape measure

Treatments 

Treating type 2 diabetes often involves a multi-faceted approach. In many cases, type 2 diabetes patients need to change their diet and exercise habits to improve their blood glucose levels. There is no specific diabetes diet, but you can add high fiber foods and control your serving sizes to improve your conditions. Participating in aerobic and resistance exercises can help shed excess fat and improve glucose levels.

Insulin therapy is typically necessary for type 2 diabetes. Insulin helps regulate glucose in the bloodstream, but several other medications like Glucophage XR (metformin ER) can lower glucose production in the liver and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. [4]

Other medications like Onglyza (saxagliptin) can help prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, and sexual function problems. Onglyza increases the level of natural substances called incretins in the body. These substances help by increasing insulin after a meal and decreasing glucose production in the liver. [5] Your doctor may also prescribe Farxiga (dapagliflozin), which helps the kidneys remove more sugar. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your risk for type 2 diabetes. [6]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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