Type 2 diabetes is a very common condition which causes a person’s blood glucose levels to become elevated. People whose insulin is less effective than normal, but who can still make it to a certain extent, are given the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. Some experts believe that the condition is becoming worryingly common in our times as a result of certain societal changes, such as supermarkets, the replacement of walking with driving and increased access to fast foods.
Following your initial diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes, it’s likely your diet will be reviewed and your blood sugar levels stabilised by pills. You may be given insulin later in your treatment, though you won’t necessarily be given it at first.
Eating an unhealthy diet can result in this condition, as can not exercising enough or being overweight. Symptoms may include tiredness, feeling really thirsty and needing to pee a lot. Your risk of developing serious issues with your nerves, eyes and heart may also be increased if you have this condition.
Your everyday life will be affected by this lifelong condition. You’ll need regular check-ups, a healthier diet and constant access to certain medicines.
Around 4 in 5 people with Type 2 diabetes eat a bad diet and carry excess weight, though there are also certain medical and hereditary factors (like the “fat gene”) which can contribute to weight gain.
So how does it feel to have Type 2 diabetes? Feeling very tired is one of the more common symptoms of this condition, as your body isn’t able to get enough glucose into its cells. Getting lots of infections like thrush is another symptom, as is a frequent urge to urinate, cuts and grazes healing slowly, and feeling extremely thirsty.
Many people fail to notice their symptoms, or simply don’t get any. A lot of people don’t ask for help as they don’t think the symptoms are important. As a result, these people can end up living with Type 2 diabetes for up to a decade before getting a diagnosis.
Your kidneys, heart, feet and eyes can become seriously damaged if you have high blood glucose levels for a long time. These are referred to as diabetes complications.
How is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?
Before you can be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, your doctor will need to examine you and find out about your symptoms. The following tests may also be used to check the level of glucose in your blood:
- HbA1C (glycosylated haemoglobin) test. This is a measure of how much glucose your red blood cells have taken up. This is the best way to find out if your blood sugar has been high for a long time.
- Fasting blood sugar test. This test is taken after you haven’t eaten for at least eight hours. You may have diabetes if your blood glucose level is 7mmol/L or higher.
- A random glucose test. A sample of your blood is taken to test how much glucose is in it. If you have a level of glucose in your blood that’s more than 11mol/L, you’re likely to have diabetes.
Your GP may advise you to have the tests again to confirm your diagnosis if it appears you have Type 2 diabetes. You may then be referred to a clinic that specialises in diabetes. You’ll be able to manage your diabetes at home, with the support and guidance of doctors and nurses. You’ll also need an annual check-up to make sure your diabetes management is going properly.
Blood Tests: What, How and Why?
It’s possible you will need blood tests on a daily basis after your diagnosis to stay on top of what’s happening in your body. It can also be a good idea to keep a blood glucose diary to keep track of your results. High blood sugars can damage the body over time. Medication is generally used to moderate the above-average blood sugar levels which characterise diabetes.
Unusually high blood sugar readings across a number of blood tests are required for a diagnosis of diabetes. You will need the following to carry out a blood test:
- A blood glucose meter.
- A blood test strip (or sensor).
- A lancing device.
Blood Test Strips
After you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will be able to get blood test sensors (also known as electrodes or blood test strips) for free with a prescription from your GP. Strips generally come in tubs of around 20, so you may need to get more than one tub each week. You may need to get a Medical Exemption certificate to do this, however, and you may need to discuss how many strips you’ll need each week or month based on your blood testing regime.
You’ll need 35 strips per week, for instance, if you’re testing your blood five times each day, 7 days a week. A HbA1c test may also be carried out by your doctor to get a very accurate image of your blood sugar management.
Is Type 2 Diabetes Serious?
In order to keep blood sugar levels under control, people with Type 2 diabetes often have to use insulin or anti-diabetic medication. It is a serious medical condition. If it’s detected and treated early on, however, the development of this condition and its complications can be prevented.
Methods like exercise, diets that restrict carbohydrates and very-low-calorie diets have been successful in putting type 2 diabetes into remission (i.e. reversing it) for some people in recent years. Joining a Low Carb Program is a great way to access guidance on healthy eating to fight back against insulin resistance and return to a healthy weight and healthy blood glucose levels.
Diet and exercise can potentially help those with metabolic disorder or pre-diabetes avoid developing Type 2 diabetes.
Serious long-term health problems may develop if Type 2 diabetes isn’t taken seriously. In people of working age, diabetes is the most common cause of blindness and vision loss. This is why annual screenings for diabetic retinopathy are necessary for everyone with diabetes aged 12 or over. Other than accidents, diabetes is also the most common cause of lower limb amputation, and of kidney failure. While those without diabetes can have cardiovascular disease and strokes, those with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop these issues.
For more information about diabetes, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Diabetes which will look at what the diabetic condition is, the difference between Type 1 and Type 2, how you become diabetic, the types of medication available and how you can manage it. Your body deserves the best, and we want to arm you with the information you need to provide that!