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Type 2 Diabetes

                                        September 2010  

Type 2 Diabetes

diabetesDiabetes is one of the fastest growing problems in the UK. There are over 2.5 million people currently diagnosed with diabetes and over 500,000 people who are thought to have the condition but don’t know it.

According to a recent health survey, by 2020 Type 2 diabetes could rise by as much as 98 per cent, mainly because of a predicted increase in overweight people.

Certainly nearly all recent increases in diabetes have been for Type 2, the type that is usually linked to obesity. While both types of diabetes concern problems with the product of insulin in the body, Type 1 usually starts in adolescence or younger people and can come on quickly while Type 2 usually presents itself later on in life.

Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. It is vital for life.

When we don’t produce enough insulin, or if for some reason we develop a resistance to the action of insulin, there is a reduction in the amount of glucose being used for energy and instead the levels of glucose in the blood become too high.

The body then tries to reduce the blood glucose levels by flushing the excess glucose out of the body in urine.

Key symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
  • increased thirst
  • extreme tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss
  • genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • blurred vision

There are people who are specially at risk from Type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • If a close member of your family has Type 2 diabetes
  • Being overweight - if your waist is 31.5 inches or over for women; 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men
  • If you have high blood pressure or have had a heart attack or a stroke

The good news about diabetes is that today it can be controlled well. With Type 1 diabetes, medication by injection is still the most common treatment; but with Type 2, a change to diet and lifestyle can be a major part of the treatment.

Approximately 90 per cent of people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are above their ideal weight, so a key to managing the disease is weight control. This means taking aspects of your diet, exercise and general health more seriously than before. Eating a sensible well balanced diet, full of nutrition and fruit and vegetables, cutting down on bad and excess fat, sugar and salt, limiting alcohol intake to reasonable levels – all the normal things we read about every day. Combine this with an increase in exercise and most people will manage to reduce their weight which can have significant effect on type 2 diabetes.

However, it is not always as simple as that, and at the moment around 40% of people with Type 2 diabetes also require insulin injections or other controlling medication.

Today many people with diabetes monitor the disease and the levels of glucose in their blood with home testing kits. These are very simple to use; you simply prick your fingers with a specially designed lancet to draw a spot of blood which you pop onto a special testing strip and then placing it into a blood glucose meter.

NICE guidelines for the UK currently recommend the following re blood glucose levels: A normal before meal blood glucose level will be between 4 and 7 mmol/l. After eating levels should be below 9 mmol/l when tested two hours after a meal. When going to bed for the night, levels should be no more than 8 mmol/l.

Really, it is good news that Type 2 diabetes can be controlled so well in so many cases. However, today, with the increase in people who are overweight, it is important that everyone is aware of the disease and the symptoms as not controlling diabetes properly can lead to very serious health problems indeed.


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