Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body fails to use insulin created by the pancreas. When this happens, sugar cannot enter cells to be used as energy, so it builds up in the bloodstream and damages nerves throughout the body. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, unexpected weight loss, and fatigue. Here are 10 things you need to know about type 2 diabetes.
1. It’s an epidemic.
Approximately 30 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. That’s almost 10% of the population. With numbers this staggering, medical professionals are scrambling to find funding necessary for diabetes treatment and management to assist large portions of the American population.
2. A healthy diet is crucial.
A large part of diabetes management is eating a healthy diet. For many people with type 2 diabetes, that means cutting back on carbs and added sugar. Healthcare professionals often recommend the ketogenic diet or paleo diet for people with diabetes, both of which prioritize eating healthy, whole foods and fewer processed foods.
3. Exercise is also important.
Diet and exercise should go hand-in-hand when it comes to managing type 2 diabetes. Just going for a short walk after dinner can lower your blood sugar almost immediately and possibly reduce the amount of medication you need to take. It’s wise to keep a journal and track all of the exercise you do so you can see how different activities affect your blood sugar and the way you feel after exercising.
4. Your race matters.
Some races are more susceptible for developing diabetes. For example, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian American/Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime compared to the general population.
5. Remission could be possible.
Sending type 2 diabetes into remission is very, very rare, but new studies are suggesting that it could be possible with massive weight loss or bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass or the gastric sleeve. In fact, bariatric surgery was more successful in sending type 2 diabetes in remission compared to weight management groups.
6. Diabetes management is a team effort.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you will need a team of healthcare professionals to help you manage it, like general practitioners, endocrinologists, and optometrists. Friends and family can also provide important support to someone with diabetes by helping them to exercise and eat well.
7. Unchecked diabetes can wreak havoc on the body.
When blood sugar stays elevated for long periods of time, it damages tiny blood vessels throughout the body. Poorly controlled blood sugar could damage your eyes, kidneys, and heart. Keeping blood sugar within a healthy range is crucial for diabetes management and living a long and healthy life.
8. There are several risk factors.
You may be more susceptible to developing diabetes if you:
- Are overweight or obese and carry extra weight around your midsection
- Have a relative with diabetes
- Have had gestational diabetes
- Are age 45 or older
- Have high blood pressure
- Have abnormal cholesterol
- Lead a sedentary lifestyle
- Don’t get enough sleep
- Don’t exercise or eat well
9. Diabetes is expensive.
In 2017, the United States spent approximately $327 billion on diabetes care and management. That number is expected to rise in 2018 and beyond as more and more people develop this disease.
10. Oral care is part of diabetes care.
Having diabetes means you need to take extra care of your teeth and gums. With diabetes, you could also have oral health problems like dry mouth, thrush, and periodontal gum disease, which can make it harder for you to control your blood sugar levels. See your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy.
If you think you have symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you have several risk factors, talk to your doctor about how to best manage your blood sugar levels so you can stay healthy.