Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of diabetes cases – about 9%0-95%, according to the American Diabetes Association. It usually affects adults, although it has been occurring in children and teens in greater frequency in the past several decades.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin properly. At first, your pancreas will make extra insulin to make up for the shortfall. Over time, however, it can’t keep up with your lack of insulin, and your blood sugar levels rise.
Anyone can develop type 2 diabetes, although your chances are greater if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Are over 45
- Are overweight or obese
- Are inactive
- Are a member of one of the following ethnic groups: African-American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American/Pacific Islander
- Were previously had gestational diabetes (high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy but goes away shortly after delivery)
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Have been diagnosed as having pre-diabetes – blood sugar levels that are high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes
- Have low HDL (good cholesterol) or high LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Have high blood pressure
Even if you’re at a high risk of developing diabetes, you may be able to delay or even prevent its onset. Moderate weight loss, dietary changes, and increased physical activity can prevent or slow the development of type 2 diabetes.
Once you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you’ll need to test your blood glucose levels regularly, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. This includes learning how certain foods, such as those high in carbohydrates, affect your own blood sugar. Your doctor may prescribe oral medication, insulin, or both in order to help regulate your blood sugar.
If type 2 diabetes is not properly diagnosed and managed, problems can develop throughout your body. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels and lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and dental issues. In extreme cases, it can cause poor circulation and eventually amputation.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease with long-term implications for your health, but if you’ve been diagnosed, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans – about 8%-9% of the population – are in the same boat.
If you’re at risk, talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. And if you’ve already been diagnosed, work with your doctor to make the necessary lifestyle changes to ensure that you manage your diabetes and decrease your chances of complications.
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