Type II Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a disease that most people know something about. If you have T2D, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
The media is filled with references to and articles about the disease. Diabetes has reached epidemic levels in the US and in most of the developing world. According to the National Diabetes Statistics, 2011, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages or 8.3% of the U.S. population. Approximately 7 million of those are undiagnosed. In China, diabetes has emerged as a major public health issue with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) projecting a doubling of adult diabetics to 92.4 million over the past decade. An estimated 9% of the Chinese population suffers from diabetes, similar to the North American prevalence of 10.2%.
Early symptoms of T2D include frequent bladder, kidney, skin or other infections that heal slowly, fatigue, hunger, increased thirst, increased urination, blurred vision, erectile dysfunction and pain or numbness in the extremities. If left untreated, or as the disease progresses, more serious complications can occur including eye problems (blindness or light sensitivity), sores that won’t heal and are prone to infection, cardiovascular complications including increases in blood pressure and cholesterol that can lead to heart attack and stroke, nerve damage, digestive problems, and kidney damage or failure.
Clinical tests to confirm a T2D diagnosis include: Fasting blood glucose level -- two times above 126 mg/dL· Hemoglobin A1c test – pre-diabetes: 5.7% - 6.4%; diabetics: 6.5% or greater. Oral glucose tolerance test -- diabetes is diagnosed if glucose level is higher than 200 mg/dL after 2 hours. The first recommended treatment is a change in diet (weight control) and exercise. Metformin is the first line therapy for T2D. After many years, diabetes can lead to serious problems with patient’s eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, blood vessels, or other areas of the body. People with diabetes have a risk of a heart attack that is the same as that of someone who has already had a heart attack. Both women and men with diabetes are at risk. They may not even have the normal signs of a heart attack. If blood sugar and blood pressure, are controlled, the risk of death, stroke, heart failure, and other diabetes problems can be reduced. Some people with T2D no longer need medicine if they lose weight and become more active. When they reach their ideal weight, their body's own insulin and a healthy diet can control their blood sugar levels. Additional information on Type II Diabetes can be found from the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes).
Whiting, D., March 2010, “The implications of the new Chinese prevalence study,” International Diabetes Federation, Diabetes Voice, Vol.55:1.