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What is Type 2 Diabetes? Here Are Some Key Definitions You Should Know

March 17, 2020 | in New Diagnosis, Stats & Facts, Lifestyle Changes

Author Renee Laguda, RN - Cebu Normal University
Previously: Surgical Department Staff Nurse - Davao Regional Medical Center
Editorial Review Phoebe Stoye, A.B. in Neurobiology, Harvard College
Clinical Review Nicholas Yozamp, MD, Washington University in St. Louis
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Let's start with this thought: maybe you've been living with it for weeks, months, or even years. Maybe it's making Saturday brunch a bit difficult. Perhaps it's making you a bit queasy after a quick run, since your blood sugar keeps fluctuating.

It's difficult to fully understand something as complex as Type 2 Diabetes, but can we simplify it? Today, we will lay out the facts.

Definition of Key Terms in Type 2 Diabetes

Before we dive in, let's define a few terms first:

  • Diabetes Mellitus is a general term which describes a group of metabolic disorders that are classified into two main types and which are characterized by high blood sugars (hyperglycemia). Other shared symptoms may include: fatigue, increased thirst, frequent urination, and poor wound healing.
  • Blood Glucose is a type of sugar obtained from the breakdown and synthesis of our food. This glucose, which travels throughout the bloodstream, is what the cells in your body use to function. This entire process is regulated by insulin.
  • Insulin is a hormone or chemical messenger produced by the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for bringing glucose into the cells, providing them with energy to perform vital functions.
  • The pancreas is a vital organ just behind the stomach, responsible for blood sugar control. It is lined with clusters of beta cells that produce insulin, which is used for the regulation of glucose. The pancreas also produces enzymes, which allow the body to break down protein and fat.
  • A glucometer is a special device used to monitor random blood glucose levels in the body.
  • If you were recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, check out Caretalk's page on having a new diagnosis for support, advice, and more.

    Spot the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

    There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes (formerly known as juvenile-onset diabetes) is an autoimmune condition where the body's immune system attacks the pancreas, damaging it and preventing it from producing insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is usually diagnosed at an early age, and people with this condition are highly dependent on daily insulin for day-to-day living.

    Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, responsible for more than 90% of diabetes mellitus cases worldwide, and totalling to a population of 34.2 million people in the U.S. Having this condition means that while your body produces enough insulin for you to survive, it is unable to use insulin as it should—something referred to as "insulin resistance." With insulin resistance, you leave higher amounts of unused glucose in your bloodstream, which causes a spike in your blood glucose levels. People with Type 2 Diabetes are usually diagnosed in middle age or older; however, cases in younger people are rising. Type 2 Diabetes used to be called "non-insulin-dependent diabetes," but that's a misnomer since some people require insulin for treatment. However, lifestyle changes like diet & exercise can make a significant impact on your diabetes.

    Proper Management is the Key

    Watching one's diet and maintaining a regular exercise routine are the most fundamental aspects of diabetes management. Although diet and exercise are key interventions, it's important that they be individualized: what works for one person may not work for another person. Check out this article to learn more about how exercise lowers your blood sugar levels.

    Try to incorporate foods with low glycemic indexes into your diet—for example, whole grains, fiber-rich fruits, greens, lean proteins, and legumes. Be wary of processed foods—they are filled with lots of unhealthy additives. When planning your meals, you should try to incorporate some of your favorite foods. Remember, eating healthy doesn't have to be bland! Here are a few delicious, nutritious meal ideas.

    Following your doctor's lead is always a wise choice, and strict compliance with medications and other prescribed treatments will ensure that your risk for encountering any complications is minimal. Read here to check the side effects or warnings of your diabetes medications. Check your blood sugar levels with a glucometer every day if your doctor tells you to do so, and keep track of your blood sugar tendencies. Learn to manage Type 2 Diabetes just like the champion you have always been—you can do it!


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