What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body’s primary source of energy, blood glucose (or blood sugar), is not being properly transferred to the cells from the bloodstream. This happens when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to transfer the blood sugar or when the body is unable to use the insulin being produced properly. A build-up of blood sugar occurs, leading to the development of type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia, and other health complications such as heart disease or stroke if left untreated.
Though it is the most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented and managed through a healthy diet and physician-recommended care plan.
Hear from Ayesha Jameel, MD, of Bridgeport Endocrinology, as she speaks on symptoms and complications related to type 2 diabetes. Learn about common health factors that can indicate that a person may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and recommended steps to prevent and manage these symptoms. Learn more by watching the complete interview and reading through the frequently asked questions about type 2 diabetes below.
Ayesha Jameel, MD, Bridgeport Endocrinology
1). Who is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes?
You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, type 2 diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight or obese. Diabetes is more common in people who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
Physical inactivity and certain health problems such as high blood pressure affect your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes or had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant. Learn more about risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
2). So what do you tell your patients that have been recently diagnosed with diabetes?
It is important to approach this from a positive perspective when engaging in conversation with a patient about a diabetes diagnosis. I know it can be hard to hear that you have diabetes; the good news is that you have a community to fall back on for support. You do not have to maneuver this disease by yourself. You have the support of countless others who have felt the same shock. You have the support of the entire staff and me at Bridgeport Endocrinology, who are here to help you.
Your diagnosis is simply the first step. There are ways you can manage your diabetes—through diet, exercise, medical support, and emotional help. The key is for you to dig in. Take action. Know that we have everything you need to help you live a long, healthy life surrounded by people who know exactly what you are going through.
3). What are some symptoms of diabetes that your patients say they have experienced?
Symptoms of diabetes include
- increased thirst and urination
- increased hunger
- feeling tired
- blurred vision
- numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
- sores that do not heal
- unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart disease.
4). What health problems do you warn your patients about concerning type 2 diabetes?
I tell my patients that they need to follow a good diabetes care plan that can help protect against many diabetes-related health problems. However, if not managed, diabetes can lead to problems such as:
- heart disease and stroke
- nerve damage
- kidney disease
- foot problems
- eye disease
- gum disease and other dental problems
- sexual and bladder problems
Many people with type 2 diabetes also have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Losing weight if you are overweight or obese can improve NAFLD. Diabetes is also linked to other health problems such as sleep apnea, depression, some types of cancer, and dementia.
You can take steps to lower your chances of developing these diabetes-related health problems.
5). For those who may be watching this video, what would your advice be to lower the chance of developing type 2 diabetes?
Research has shown that you can take steps to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Here are some things you can do to lower your risk:
- Lose weight if you are overweight, and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your current weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
- Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, at least 5 days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly and build up to your goal.
- Eat healthy foods. Eat smaller portions to reduce the number of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight. Choosing foods with less fat is another way to reduce calories. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.
Ask your health care team what other changes you can make to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Most often, your best chance for preventing type 2 diabetes is to make lifestyle changes that work for you long term.
6). Has a cure for type 2 diabetes been developed yet?
While there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, there are ways to manage your condition—through a balanced diet, an active lifestyle and (in some cases) medicine.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder that is most likely to occur in individuals with a family history of diabetes. Because of this, Type 1 diabetes usually shows up early in a patient’s life and is not preventable. Type 2 diabetes develops later in life as a result of diet, lifestyle, and an individual’s unique health conditions. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy diet and lifestyle choices, as recommended by a physician.
What is the best diet for type 2 diabetes?
It is recommended that individuals with type 2 diabetes maintain a diet high in starchy and non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and proteins, as well as nonfat or low-fat dairy products. Healthy fats and oils found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and heart-healthy fish like salmon and tuna are also recommended. Individuals with type 2 diabetes should avoid fried foods or foods high in saturated and trans fats, as well as foods that are high in sodium. Limit sugary treats and baked goods to a minimum and be mindful of beverages and other sources of added sugars, such as sodas and energy drinks. (Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases).
What is a normal blood sugar level?
It is normal for an individual’s blood sugar—or blood glucose levels—to change throughout the day due to meals and other factors. An individual with diabetes should aim to maintain blood sugar between 80 mg/dL and 130 mg/dL before meals and below 180 mg/dL two hours after the start of a meal. Individuals with diabetes should talk with their physician about their target blood sugar and ways to maintain this target throughout the day. (Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases).
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