There Are Different Types Of Diabetes
Remember that there are actually three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational . In type 1 diabetes, your body just cant produce insulin and in type 2, your body isnt responding to insulin as well as it should be. The symptoms for both types of diabetes are similar, although these symptoms can develop a lot faster in type 1. Find more information on the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes here.
Type 2 diabetes is also a lot more common than type 1. Unfortunately, many people who have it, arent diagnosed. This is because they dont recognize the symptoms or may attribute them to other conditions. Plus, some symptoms of type 2 diabetes may not show up for years and years.
Treatments For Type 2 Diabetes
There are a number of different ways you can treat type 2 diabetes, such as making healthy lifestyle choices, using insulin or taking medication. Your healthcare team will help you to find the right treatment for you. This can reduce your risk of developing complications and help you to live well with diabetes.
Learn more about diabetes treatments.
What Is The Best Medication For Diabetes
While diet and exercise alone are enough to help some people with type 2 diabetes achieve their target blood-sugar levels, many also need medications or insulin therapy to effectively manage the disease.
Which diabetes medications are best for you depends on many factors, including your blood-sugar level and other health conditions you have. The prescription drug metformin is usually the first medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It works by lowering glucose production in the liver and improving sensitivity to insulin so that your body uses the hormone more effectively. But your doctor may also recommend a combination of drugs from different classes to help you control your blood sugar in several different ways.
This article first appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Diabetes.
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What Happens With Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes develops over a long period of time . During this period of time insulin resistance starts, this is where the insulin is increasingly ineffective at managing the blood glucose levels. As a result of this insulin resistance, the pancreas responds by producing greater and greater amounts of insulin, to try and achieve some degree of management of the blood glucose levels.
As insulin overproduction occurs over a very long period of time, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas wear themselves out, so that by the time someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they have lost 50 70% of their insulin-producing cells. This means type 2 diabetes is a combination of ineffective insulin and not enough insulin. Lifestyle changes may be able to slow this process in some people.
Initially, type 2 diabetes can often be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity. Over time many people with type 2 diabetes will also need tablets and some may eventually require insulin. It is important to note that this is normal, and taking tablets or insulin as soon as they are required can result in fewer long-term complications.
Does Your Diabetes Type Ever Change
Even ignoring the high numbers of people with Type 1.5 who are initially misdiagnosed as Type 2, the lines between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes often get blurred over time. Due to aging and weight gain in those with Type 1, the progressive nature of beta-cell failure in Type 2, and the mixture of obesity and antibodies in young people, those with one type of diabetes often tend to take on characteristics of the other.
With less exercise and more weight around the middle, some Type 1s become not only insulin-deficient but also insulin resistant. They can develop the cardiac risks associated with Metabolic Syndrome and benefit from medications that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. More insulin is required to control glucose levels, while certain Type 2 medications, like Glucophage and GLP-1 agonists, may benefit their control.
On the other hand, as Type 2 diabetes progresses, insulin production may diminish to a point where it can no longer maintain normal glucose levels. Insulin will be required to keep glucose levels under control. Some people with Type 2 eventually become dependent on insulin and can go into ketoacidosis in stressful situations. In fact, ketoacidosis is about twice as common in Type 2 diabetes as it is in Type 1.
Lab Tests Used for DiagnosisA variety of lab tests and clinical signs help to provide the information needed to determine which type of diabetes a person has correctly.
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Type 2 Diabetes Complications
Over time, high blood sugar can damage and cause problems with your:
- Heart and blood vessels. Youâre up to five times more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke. Youâre also at high risk of blocked blood vessels and chest pain .
- Kidneys. If your kidneys are damaged or you have kidney failure, you could need dialysis or a kidney replacement.
- Eyes. High blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in the backs of your eyes . If this isnât treated, it can cause blindness.
- Nerves. This can lead to trouble with digestion, the feeling in your feet, and your sexual response.
- Skin. Your blood doesnât circulate as well, so wounds heal slower and can become infected.
- Pregnancy. Women with diabetes are more likely to have a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a baby with a birth defect.
- Sleep. You might develop sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing stops and starts while you sleep.
- Hearing. Youâre more likely to have hearing problems, but itâs not clear why.
- Brain. High blood sugar can damage your brain and might put you at higher risk of Alzheimerâs disease.
- Depression. People with the disease are twice as likely to get depressed as people who donât have it.
The best way to avoid these complications is to manage your type 2 diabetes well.
- Take your diabetes medications or insulin on time.
- Eat right, and don’t skip meals.
- See your doctor regularly to check for early signs of trouble.
Extremely Dry Itchy Skin
Dry, itchy skin
If you have diabetes, youre more likely to have dry skin. High blood sugar can cause this. If you have a skin infection or poor circulation, these could also contribute to dry, itchy skin.
- Tell your doctor about your extremely dry skin. Gaining better control of diabetes can reduce dryness.
- If you continue to have dry skin after you gain better control of your diabetes, a dermatologist can help.
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How Long Does It Take For The Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes To Develop
Type 2 diabetes symptoms may be very minor for a long time, and suddenly become more serious.
This is why type 2 diabetes often goes unnoticed for many years. It is believed that up to 850,000 adults could have type 2 diabetes and be unaware of it
Its important not to disregard the symptoms of diabetes as being down to getting older.
Might I Have Diabetes And Not Realise
With type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin, meaning the effect on the body is usually rapid and noticeable. However, type 2 diabetes develops slowly – the body still produces insulin, but it may be insufficient, or the body might not respond to it properly. This means that the development of symptoms is gradual. “Symptoms for type 1 diabetes often develop very fast,” explains Macciochi. “But with type 2 diabetes you may not even know you have it, as symptoms can be very subtle.”
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Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Cured
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but some people are able to put their diabetes into remission. This means that your blood sugar levels are healthy and you dont need to take diabetes medication any more. Remission can be life-changing, but its not possible for everyone.
Learn more about diabetes remission.
Is Type 2 Diabetes Serious
Around 90% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 2. It is serious condition and can be lifelong.
If left untreated, high sugar levels in your blood can seriously damage parts of your body, including your eyes, heart and feet. These are called the complications of diabetes. But with the right treatment and care, you can live well with type 2 diabetes and reduce your risk of developing them.
Learn more about diabetes complications.
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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes
Symptoms, treatment, and complications from type 2 diabetes may vary from person to person. The following information will help you learn more about this disease and provide you with helpful tools, assessments and resources.
If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can lead to a variety of life-threatening complications.
The Risk Factor Of Type 1 Diabetes
Some of the common risk factors of type 1 diabetes are:
Family history: If someone in your family like your parents or grandparents have this health concern then the likelihood of you getting this disease increases.
Age: The signs of type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, but it is more common among children and adolescents.
Genetics: Presence of some specific genes in the body can increase the risk of developing this disease.
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How To Reverse Prediabetes
The CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program helps people with prediabetes make lasting lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Working with a trained coach, youâll learn to eat healthy, add physical activity into your life, and manage stress. With other participants, youâll celebrate successes and work to overcome challenges.
If you have prediabetes, now is your time to take action.
How Do You Get A Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis
If youre experiencing excessive hunger, fatigue, increased thirst, or any more of these vague symptoms, its a good idea to ask your doctor if you might have diabetes, since the condition can pose serious consequences for your health if left untreated. Diabetes impairs the kidneys ability to filter impurities from the blood, and high blood sugar can damage your eyes and cause blindness. Nerve damage caused by the condition can lead to numbness, create digestive problems, and diminish sexual response.
Whats more, diabetes sufferers are up to five times more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke. So read on to find out how to know if you have type 2 diabetes.
How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed
The following blood tests help your healthcare provider diagnose diabetes:
- Fasting plasma glucose test: checks your blood glucose level. This test is best done in the office in the morning after an eight hour fast .
- Random plasma glucose test: This lab test can be done any time without the need to fast.
- Glycolated hemoglobin testing measures your average blood sugar levels over three months.
- Oral glucose tolerance testing checks your blood sugar levels before and after you drink a sugary beverage. The test evaluates how your body handles glucose.
|Type of test|
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms Common In Men
Previous research suggests men with diabetes are up to three times more likely to develop ED than those who do not have the disease.
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We Need A Strategy Now
Although people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have different journeys, including whether or not they experience symptoms, there is one issue that unites all people living with the disease. Canada has no strategy to address one of the most significant health-care crisis of our time.
With no dedicated support or action to tackle the diabetes epidemic, it means that, every 24 hours:
- more than 20 Canadians die of diabetes-related complications
- 480 more Canadians are diagnosed with this devastating disease
- 14 Canadians have a lower limb amputation
- our health care system spends $75 million treating diabetes
How Is Type 2 Diabetes Treated
People with type 2 diabetes have to pay a little more attention to what they’re eating and doing than people who don’t have diabetes. They may need to:
- Eat a healthy diet, as determined by the care team.
- Get regular physical activity to achieve a healthy weight and allow insulin to work more effectively.
- Check their blood sugar levels on a regular basis.
- Get treatment for other health problems that can happen more often in people with type 2 diabetes, like high blood pressure or problems with the levels of fats in their blood.
- Have regular checkups with doctors and other people on their diabetes health care team so they can stay healthy and get treatment for any diabetes problems.
People with type 2 diabetes might have to eat smaller food portions and less salt or fat, too. Those who eat healthy foods, stay active, and get to a healthy weight may bring their blood sugar levels into a healthier range. Their doctors may even say they don’t need to take any medicines at all.
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Spotting The Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes
The presence of type 2 diabetes prevents the body from being able to lower blood glucose levels as efficiently as in people without diabetes. For this reason, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be more noticeable following meals.
Measuring higher than normal levels of blood pressure or cholesterol may indicate a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, particularly if you are overweight and it is therefore wise to be aware of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Risk Factors Of Type 2 Diabetes
There are several factors that can affect your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Because the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are not always obvious, its really important to be aware of these risk factors. They can include:
- your age
- if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes
- your ethnicity
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Your Vision’s Getting Increasingly Blurry
Blurry vision is a commonand often ignoreddiabetes symptom in women. What does diabetes have to do with your vision? Kellis explains that fluid can form in your eye’s lens as sugar levels increase .
Diabetes can cause significant, unexplained weight loss. Think: 10 or 20 pounds.
A buildup of fluid in the eye blurs vision, causes nearsightedness, and sends many people to the optometrist for a new glasses or contacts prescription.
Fortunately, getting your blood sugar levels under control can clear up blurred vision, she adds.
Your Breath Smells Awful
Diabetes-related dehydration contributes to dry mouth, and the bad breath that can accompany it.
Whats more, undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes can trigger ketosis, a process in which the body uses fat, rather than glucose, for energy. Ketosis releases a chemical byproduct called ketones, which can make your breath smell unpleasantly sweet or fruity, she sayssometimes it might even smell like acetone, since that’s a type of ketone.
Unless you’re on a keto diet , it’s worth talking to your doctor.
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Will I Need Medication Or Insulin For Type 2 Diabetes
Some people take medication to manage diabetes, along with diet and exercise. Your healthcare provider may recommend oral diabetes medications. These are pills or liquids that you take by mouth. For example, a medicine called metformin helps control the amount of glucose your liver produces.
You can also take insulin to help your body use sugar more efficiently. Insulin comes in the following forms:
- Injectable insulin is a shot you give yourself. Most people inject insulin into a fleshy part of their body such as their belly. Injectable insulin is available in a vial or an insulin pen.
- Inhaled insulin is inhaled through your mouth. It is only available in a rapid-acting form.
- Insulin pumps deliver insulin continuously, similar to how a healthy pancreas would. Pumps release insulin into your body through a tiny cannula . Pumps connect to a computerized device that lets you control the dose and frequency of insulin.
When Should I Call My Doctor
Its important to monitor diabetes very closely if youre sick. Even a common cold can be dangerous if it interferes with your insulin and blood sugar levels. Make a sick day plan with your healthcare provider so you know how often to check your blood sugar and what medications to take.
Contact your provider right away if you experience:
- Confusion or memory loss.
- Nausea and vomiting for more than four hours.
- Problems with balance or coordination.
- Severe pain anywhere in your body.
- Trouble moving your arms or legs.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Type 2 diabetes is a disease where your body doesnt make enough insulin and cant use sugar the way it should. Sugar, or glucose, builds up in your blood. High blood sugar can lead to serious health complications. But Type 2 diabetes is manageable. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you manage your blood sugar. You may also need medication or insulin. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you should monitor your blood sugar at home regularly and stay in close communication with your healthcare provider.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2021.