If you’re at risk for diabetes, you’ve probably been wondering what can be done to treat or prevent this condition. There are a number of things that can be done, though nothing is a magic formula to cure this disease.
However, a good start is being informed, taking care of your body, and listening to your doctors.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
A basic definition of Type 2 diabetes, or diabetes mellitus type 2, is: type 2 diabetes is a serious metabolic condition of the body. Someone with diabetes cannot produce, or cannot use insulin correctly, has high blood sugar levels, and suffers from insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious medical conditions, including death, if left untreated.
Those with diabetes are more at risk for heart disease, strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, diabetic retinopathy, and other serious conditions. Long term, untreated diabetes can lead to a diabetic coma, and death.
Risk Factors for Diabetes
If you have any of the following risk factors, you should pay very close attention to your health and get a test to determine if you have diabetes or not.
- Advancing age
- A family history of diabetes
- Excess abdominal fat
- You work out less than three times per week
- You had gestational diabetes
- You are African America, Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander, Mexican American, Native Hawaiian, or Native Alaskan
- You have had an injury or disease of the pancreas
Symptoms of Diabetes
If you believe you may have diabetes, you should look for these symptoms. If you have more than one or two of them and they last longer than a period of a few days, you should go to your health care provider and ask for testing immediately. It may save your life.
- Blurred vision
- Unplanned weight loss
- Fast weight gain
- Slow healing of infections
- Unusual tiredness
- Excessive fatigue
- Patches of dark, velvety skin in body creases like the armpit
- Excess hunger
- Excess thirst
- Frequent urination
- Slow healing wounds
- More frequent infections
What is Insulin?
If you are diabetic, there is a good chance that you’ll need to receive insulin therapy, since you do not create enough of your own.
Insulin is created by the pancreas. It is a peptide hormone that lets your body properly use sugar from your carbohydrates for energy, whether that’s being used now, for being stored for future use by your body.
Insulin helps your body regulate the amount of sugar in your blood stream and prevent either hyperglycemia – which is too much sugar in the blood – or hypoglycemia –which is too little sugar in the blood.
For those with severe diabetic conditions, including everyone with Type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy is required. Insulin therapy involves injections of insulin, or the use of an insulin pump that delivers either rapid or short acting insulin through a catheter throughout the day, in one of three ways.
- Basal insulin, meaning baseline, is delivered regularly throughout the day.
- Bolus doses of insulin are given during mealtimes to cover the carbohydrates eaten.
- Corrective doses are delivered in case of spiked blood sugar levels for other reasons.
What are Other Diabetes Medications?
Not everyone with Type 2 diabetes needs to have insulin therapy. If you are non-insulin dependent, you may be prescribed oral diabetes medications that do a variety of things to aid in diabetic care.
- Increase insulin production
- Slow the breakdown of carbohydrates
- Decrease glucose production
- Increase insulin sensitivity
If you are not dependent on insulin to treat your diabetes, your doctor will discuss the various medication options for your treatment with you.
Are There Any Non-Prescription Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Options?
While the majority of people with diabetes need diabetes medication of some kind, there are certainly things you can do to help prevent and care for diabetes.
1. Get Regular Exercise
For true health, both a regular exercise plan, like working out three or more times per week, and higher basic activity levels are necessary. You should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. You can do this through brisk walks, light jogging, swimming, or cycling.
2. Watch Your Diet
Good nutrition is especially important for diabetics. Instead of indulging in sugary treats, and junk food, choose healthy snacks like vegetables and fruit that are low on the glycemic index. That also means cutting back on carbohydrates found in things like bread and donuts.
3. Lose Weight
This is a basic premise that will help your health over all. If you exceed the appropriate weight for your height, bone structure, age, you will benefit from losing even 5 percent of your excess weight.
Diabetes Doesn’t Have to Be a Death Sentence
For most, diabetes will not result in death. There are complications, and of course there are things that may happen to worsen your condition. But if you take care of yourself, take the proper diabetes medications, and listen to your doctors, you’ve got a much better possibility of living a long, reasonably uncomplicated life with diabetes.