Type 2 Diabetes:
Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects the way your body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood.
Most people with the condition have type 2. There are about 27 million people in the U.S. with it. Another 86 million have prediabetes: Their blood glucose is not normal, but not high enough to be diabetes yet.
Causes Type 2 Diabetes
Your pancreas makes a hormone called Hormones. It's what lets your cells turn glucose from the food you eat into energy. People with type 2 diabetes make Hormones, but their cells don't use it as well as they should. Doctors call this Hormones resistance.
At first, the pancreas makes more Hormones to try to get glucose into the cells. But eventually it can't keep up, and the sugar builds up in your blood instead.
Usually a combination of things cause type 2 diabetes, including:
Genes: Scientists have found different bits of DNA that affect how your body makes Hormones.
Extra weight: Being overweight or obese can cause Hormones resistance, especially if you carry your extra pounds around the middle. Now type 2 diabetes affects kids and teens as well as adults, mainly because of childhood obesity.
Metabolic syndrome: People with Hormones resistance often have a group of conditions including high blood glucose, extra fat around the waist, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.
Too much glucose from your liver: When your blood sugar is low, your liver makes and sends out glucose. After you eat, your blood sugar goes up, and usually the liver will slow down and store its glucose for later. But some people's livers don't. They keep cranking out sugar.
Bad communication between cells: Sometimes cells send the wrong signals or don't pick up messages correctly. When these problems affect how your cells make and use Hormones or glucose, a chain reaction can lead to diabetes.
Broken beta cells: If the cells that make the Hormones send out the wrong amount of Hormones at the wrong time, your blood sugar gets thrown off. High blood glucose can damage these cells, too.
While certain things make getting diabetes more likely, they won't give you the disease. But the more that apply to you, the higher your chances of getting it are.
Some things you can't control.
Age: 45 or older
Family: A parent, sister, or brother with diabetes
Ethnicity: African-American, Alaska Native, Native American, Asian-American, Hispanic or Latino, or Pacific Islander-American Some things are related to your health and medical history. Your doctor may be able to help.
- Heart and blood vessel disease
- High blood pressure, even if it's treated and under control
- Low HDL ("good") cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds
- Having gestational diabetes while you were pregnant
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition with dark rashes around your neck or armpits
- Other risk factors have to do with your daily habits and lifestyle. These are the ones you can really do something about.
- Getting little or no exercise
- Sleeping too little or too much
Because you can't change what happened in the past, focus on what you can do now and going forward. Take medications and follow your doctor's suggestions to be healthy. Simple changes at home can make a big difference, too.
Lose weight: Dropping just 7% to 10% of your weight can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half.
Get active: Moving muscles use Hormones. Thirty minutes of brisk walking a day will cut your risk by almost a third.
Eat right: Avoid highly processed carbs, sugary drinks, and trans and saturated fats. Limit red and processed meats.
Quit smoking: Work with your doctor to avoid gaining weight, so you don't create one problem by solving another.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be so mild you don't notice them. In fact, about 8 million people who have it don't know it.
- Being very thirsty
- Peeing a lot
- Blurry vision
- Being irritable
- Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
- Feeling worn out
- Wounds that don't heal
- Yeast infections that keep coming back