Type 2 diabetes is a relatively common but serious medical condition that affects around 29 million people living in the United States. This lifelong disease is the most common form of diabetes. While it is most common for seniors and middle-aged adults, younger adults, teens, and children can all become afflicted with the condition, which is primarily linked to obesity.
If you learn more about the warning signs of type 2 diabetes, you may be able to catch the disease while still in the prediabetes stage, meaning that your blood sugar levels are high but that the condition may still be reversible with real lifestyle change. Find out more about signs and causes below.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
This form of diabetes occurs when your body can no longer produce enough insulin or does not use that insulin the way it is supposed to. Insulin is a hormone that helps carry glucose, or sugar, to your cells. When insulin production and use is disrupted, glucose begins to build in your blood. If left untreated, this condition can cause severe complications, such as:
- Coma or death
- Kidney and heart conditions
- High blood pressure
- Nerve damage, which causes numbness and tingling, most commonly in the feet and legs
- Eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy
- Skin conditions, including frequent infections, dry skin, allergic reactions, and diabetic blisters
Now that you know about how the condition affects the body, find out about the early signs of type 2 diabetes below.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Catching diabetes early can help prevent further health complications, including potential coma and death. Diabetes is a serious, long-term health condition that must be managed to maintain overall health and wellness. Here are the most common signs of type 2 diabetes that you should be aware of:
- Increased thirst – One of the most common warning signs of type 2 diabetes is increased thirst. This occurs because kidneys must work harder to get rid of the sugar that builds up in your blood, leaving you dehydrated and feeling thirsty.
- Increased hunger – Hunger is another common warning sign. If you have diabetes, you may experience increased hunger, even after eating. This is because the disease stops glucose from entering your cells, leading to further hunger.
- Frequent urination – This goes hand in hand with increased thirst symptoms. Since your kidneys begin to work overtime, fluids are flushed out more frequently as a means to get rid of excess sugar from your blood.
- Dry mouth – Dry mouth is a common symptom of dehydration, which can occur in diabetic patients when their blood sugar is too high.
- Fatigue – When glucose cannot readily enter your cells like it’s supposed to, your body will not get enough energy from the food you eat, leading to persistent fatigue. Fatigue can also occur as a symptom of dehydration.
- Frequent headaches – Headaches are a symptom of dehydration and high blood sugar levels.
- Sores and infections that don’t heal or frequently reoccur – High blood sugar and pressure can wreak havoc on your body. One common symptom of high blood pressure is that it becomes more difficult for your body to heal. For example, one of the more prevalent signs of type 2 diabetes in women is frequently occurring urinary tract infections.
- Tender, swollen, and red gums – Because diabetes makes you more likely to get infections, your gums can become infected. Gums that become infected can lead to other oral health conditions, which may result in teeth loss.
- Loss of consciousness – If your blood sugar gets too low with this condition, such as after exercise or when skipping a meal, you may lose consciousness.
Type 2 Diabetes Causes
There are several type 2 diabetes causes that you should be aware of. Usually, diabetes is caused by a combination of factors, including:
- Genetics. You are more likely to become diabetic if diabetes runs in your family.
- Obesity. Obesity is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes, as extra weight can cause insulin resistance, especially in fat located around your abdomen.
- Metabolic syndrome. Those with insulin resistance often have several conditions related to this resistance, such as extra fat around the abdomen, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
- Too much glucose from the liver. Usually, your liver signals for the production of glucose when your blood sugar is low. However, the liver usually recognizes when you eat a meal, and it stores glucose for later. Nevertheless, the production of glucose may not slow down if your liver functions abnormally and may instead continue to crank out more sugar, thus leading to this condition.
- Poor communication between cells. If the cells in your body are not communicating properly, how cells use and make glucose and insulin can be affected, which can help lead to diabetes.
Tips for Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid activities that increase your likelihood of becoming diabetic. While not all diabetes causes are under your control, you may be able to minimize your risk of developing diabetes by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Not smoking.
- Finding ways to reduce stress.
- Regularly exercising.
- Making sure you get enough sleep.
Learn About Type 2 Diabetes Management and Treatment Options
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured. While prediabetes can sometimes be treated by catching the condition early and making necessary changes to your life, once you have diabetes, you cannot remove it. However, you may be able to manage your condition with a mix of medication and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes that may help you manage your type 2 diabetes are similar to the recommendations for preventing the condition altogether. They include:
- Weight loss and maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Choosing to eat healthily and cutting back on refined carbs, especially foods with a lot of sugar.
- Getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
- Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly.
- Following through with any medications that your doctor prescribes.
- Communicating with your doctor if you have any new or worsening symptoms.
It is worth knowing that type 2 diabetes is considered a progressive disease. This means that it can worsen over time. It is not uncommon for people with diabetes to be on more than one medication to help manage the disease.