Type 2 Diabetes Care & Management

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition than can get worse if not taken care of early on.

This condition is brought about when the insulin produced in the pancreas fails to work properly. Alternatively, it is caused when the pancreas becomes incapable of producing insulin in sufficient quantities.

The result is that the levels of sugar, also known as glucose, in your blood continue to rise. Insulin is an essential ingredient of life. It enables the glucose to enter the cells of the body and provides fuel for our bodies. With type 2 diabetes, carbohydrates from food and drink continue to be broken down and turned into glucose. The pancreas releases insulin in response to this.

However, as a consequence of the insulin being unable to work properly, the blood sugar levels continue to rise and further amounts of insulin are released. In some cases, this leads to the pancreas wearing itself out, producing less and less insulin as a result.

Blood sugar levels can thus rise even higher and increase the risk of hyperglycaemia.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

The most common symptom is persistent tiredness and it can be accompanied by frequent use of the toilet – especially at night, severe thirst, unexplained weight loss, itching around the genital area, a longer healing time for cuts and wounds and blurred vision. Both adults and children can be affected by these symptoms, all of which are caused by much of the body’s glucose remaining in the blood and isn’t helping to fuel energy.

It is not unknown to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes without exhibiting any symptoms. In fact, six out of ten people diagnosed do not suffer from any symptoms at all. You are more at risk of developing diabetes if you are aged over forty, are related to someone who is diabetic and are overweight or obese.

If you are of Asian, African-Caribbean or African origin, you are particularly vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes. When it comes to treatment, the first thing to remember is that type 2 diabetes has no cure and is a lifelong condition.

Some people are able to put their condition into remission, which means their blood sugar levels remain at a healthy level and the need for medication is eliminated. It can be truly life-changing but not everyone will be able to do this. There are a number of different treatments for type 2 diabetes.

Almost everyone who suffers from it will be required to take medicine in order to help the blood sugar maintain as normal a level as possible. Generally, the first medicine to be offered will be metformin. Other medicines will be prescribed if metformin is unsuccessful in maintaining blood sugar levels. Although most commonly associated with type 2 diabetes, insulin is not usually administered until other medicines have proved unsuccessful or no longer work.

Some side-effects commonly associated with type 2 diabetes medicine include bloating, diarrhoea, weight loss or gain, nausea and swelling in various parts of the body. Regular exercise and a healthy, nutritious diet are also key in managing blood sugar levels.

Foods such as fruit, vegetables and starchy foods such as pasta are highly recommended. Sugar, fat and salt should be kept to an absolute minimum. It is also important that a routine of three meals a day should be maintained and the skipping of meals should be strongly avoided. Not everyone will find it easy to change their diet. In instances like this, a dietician will be able to offer professional advice and support.

The cost may be covered by the NHS, but you should consult your GP or diabetes nurse beforehand to determine if this is possible. You should also aim to have around two and a half hours of exercise per week and you should seek to remain active until you are short of breath. You could go for a fast walk, climb several series of stairs and partake in strenuous gardening or housework to name just three examples.

If you are overweight, losing some of your excess weight not only helps your body to lower its blood sugar level but it can also improve your body’s blood pressure and cholesterol. To determine if you’re overweight you should work out your body mass index (BMI) with the help of your dietician if you have one. If you need to lose weight, the NHS recommends that you do it slowly and aim to lose between 0.5kg to 1kg every week. A low-calorie diet of between 800-1200 calories is recommended to help address the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Some people who follow this diet have reported their reduction of sugar intake find their symptoms go into remission. Not everyone can follow a diet like this, in particular those who require insulin, so it is recommended that you seek medical advice to help determine whether this is appropriate for you. Regular check-ups are an essential part of type 2 diabetes treatment.

Every three months, you will have blood sugar tests, commonly known as HbA1C tests, to determine your average blood sugar levels and how much they need to drop before they reach a normal level. Once you are assessed as being stable, you will only be required to have this test every six months.

Once a year, your feet will be checked for ulcers or loss of sensation and can be carried out by a GP, a diabetes nurse or a podiatrist. Your eyes will also be tested once a year for any damage to the blood vessels and, also on an annual basis, your blood pressure, cholesterol and kidneys will undergo examination. If you require any more information, make an appointment with your GP and discuss it with them. Living with type 2 diabetes is not easy and will require several changes in lifestyle and the taking of at least one form of medication. But the condition is treatable and in some cases your symptoms may even go into remission, increasing your quality of life.

Disclaimer

This article is for educational and informational purposes only and must not be used or taken as a substitute in any form for any medical advice, medication you are currently taking or any alternative treatments without the prior advice, guidance and consent from your medical doctor. Please speak with your doctor fist before making any changes to your diet or medicine as a result of reading any information laid out on this website or in this or any other articles.

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