Type II diabetes is a condition where the body loses the ability to properly handle sugars from a person’s diet. There is a hormone called insulin which helps the body regulate blood sugars, and in Type II diabetics the body either does not make enough or does not respond properly to the insulin that is already present. This can cause a person’s blood sugar to rise above normal levels and if persistent over long term periods, it can cause a variety of system-wide damage. The higher the levels, the worse the impact.
You are not born with Type II diabetes and most people acquire it as an adult. However, there are increasing numbers of younger patients - some even as early as teens or preteens. Although the reasons are not completely understood, it likely arises from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. What we call environmental factors include what kind of foods a patient eats, frequency and intensity of exercise, and overall health such as weight and BMI and are probably at least as or more important than a person’s genetic risk.
Untreated or insufficiently treated diabetes can have a variety of negative effects. It can range from as simple as increased thirst and need to go to the bathroom, to increased risk for heart attacks and strokes, all the way up to amputations of toes, foot and even legs for very poorly treated disease.
The good news is that it is easy to diagnose with commonly available tests such as fingerstick blood glucose readings and a blood test called a Hemoglobin A1c. This helps doctors get a rough idea of how high your average blood sugars have been over the past few months.
It is also treatment with a combination of diet, exercise, and a variety of different medications. Some patients can get by merely with oral medications. Some other patients with more severe disease may require injections of drugs including but not limited to insulin.
It is important for patients to participate in their care and there are a number of ways in which someone can take active steps to keep their Type II diabetes under optimal control:
1) See your doctor on a regular basis, as directed, and follow recommendations such as taking your medications as prescribed.
2) Check blood sugar levels to track how well your diabetes is being treated; it is helpful to keep a running log that can be shared with your doctor.
3) If there are abnormally high or low readings, especially on more than 1 occasion, make sure to keep your doctor informed – or call 911 if very abnormal or you don’t feel well.
4) As much as you can do to help change the factors that can worsen diabetes – losing weight, improving diet, and walking or exercising more – the greater control you will have and impact your own health.
Doing all of the things needed stay healthy as a Type II diabetic can seem overwhelming. But, the more you can participate in your own health care, the more you will benefit. Mnemo can help you and your care provider to better manage your type II diabetes.