What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It is a chronic condition that leads to high blood glucose (sugar) levels as a result of insufficient insulin production from the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone required to allow the cells in the body to take up glucose, and in the setting of either significant insulin resistance and/or insufficient insulin production, high blood sugar levels arise. Though the symptoms of diabetes can include increased thirst, increased urination and/or weight loss, in most people diabetes is picked up on a blood test, without any symptoms.
Why is it important to treat type 2 diabetes?
High blood glucose levels increase the risk of diabetes-related complications. Reducing blood glucose levels, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reducing body weight can prevent and/or reduce the risk of complications, such as heart disease, kidney damage, eye disease, and foot conditions.
What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and what can be done?
People who are older, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, previous gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), high body weight, carry weight around their middle, and come from certain ethnic backgrounds are more likely to get type 2 diabetes. Reducing body weight can significantly delay and/or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. It is important to ensure that people with the above risk factors are screened regularly with a blood test for diabetes.
What glucose lowering treatments are available?
Treatment of type 2 diabetes always requires lifestyle modification and can include oral medications, injectable non-insulin medications and/or insulin treatment. The options for treatment of type 2 diabetes has expanded greatly over the past decade. There are new medications that offer glucose lowering and also have the added benefit of weight reduction, heart and kidney protection.
Successful management of type 2 diabetes always involves diet.
Tablets for glucose lowering
Many patients will be offered tablets as the first line treatment for type 2 diabetes. Some of these tablets can cause side effects when they are first started; many side effects reduce with time.
Injectable non-insulin treatment for type 2 diabetes
There are now several medications that lower blood glucose in addition to helping manage weight for people with type two diabetes. These are effective and safe and can be discussed with your doctor as part of your diabetes therapy.
Insulin treatment for type 2 diabetes
Some patients are completely lacking in insulin and thus will require insulin injections. Your doctor will determine if you are such a patient and commence insulin with you in association with a diabetes educator to ensure you are comfortable with managing your insulin.