Medical & Legal Information on Type II Diabetes: Causes & Treatment Options
• Type II Diabetes Overview
• Who Is Affected?
• Type II Diabetes Symptoms
• What Causes Type II Diabetes?
• Risk Factors
• Diagnosing Type II Diabetes
• Treating Type II Diabetes
Type II Diabetes
Type II Diabetes Overview
Noninsulin-Dependent Type II Diabetes was once referred to as adult-onset diabetes. The chronic condition affects the ability to metabolize glucose (sugars), the body’s most crucial source of energy. The disease either causes the body’s resistance to the benefits and effects of insulin that regulates the movement of glucose into every cell or causes the pancreas to fail in providing sufficient amounts of insulin for maintaining the normal level of glucose.
Type II diabetes is more common in adults. However, the rate of child-associated type II diabetes is on the rise, likely due to the increasing rates of childhood obesity. To date, no cure has been found for the disease, but there are effective treatments that can manage the condition including eating a healthy diet, maintaining an ideal body weight and exercising on a routine basis. If exercise and diet prove insufficient for managing blood sugars, the doctor can prescribe insulin therapy or diabetes medications.
Who Is Affected?
Out of the 29 million Americans that have type II diabetes, 25 percent are unaware that they suffer from the disease. More than one out of every three of another 86 million adults have prediabetes, where their blood glucose levels are significantly higher than the normal range, but still low enough to not be categorized as type II diabetes. Individuals suffering from diabetes have an increased potential of developing other serious health complications that could include kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, vision loss, amputation of the legs, feet or toes, and premature death.
In 2012, more than 1.7 million men and women 20 years and older received a diagnosis of diabetes. More than 200,000 individuals in the US aged 20 years and younger have been diagnosed with both type I and type II diabetes. Natives of Alaska, Native Americans, Hispanics and non-Hispanic black men and women are more than twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to non-Hispanic Caucasians.
Type II Diabetes Symptoms
Many of the symptoms associated with type II diabetes will develop slowly over time and most of the symptoms go unrecognized or are thought to be associated with some other type of health problem. The most common symptoms associated with type II diabetes include:
- Frequent Urination and Increased Thirst – The disease causes excess glucose to build up in the body’s bloodstream by pulling fluids from body tissue, causing excess thirst. The more the individual drinks, the more they need to urinate, which is usually significantly more than usual.
- Increased Hunger – Because the insulin levels in the body are not sufficient to move glucose into every cell, the organs and muscles quickly become depleted of much-needed energy, triggering intense hunger.
- Frequent Infections and Sores Slow to Heal – The disease causes the body’s inability to resist infections and heal sores.
- Unexpected Weight Loss – Individuals consuming more food than normal in an attempt to relieve their hunger pangs still lose weight unexpectedly. This is because the body no longer has the capacity to metabolize glucose and instead uses alternative fuels (usually fat) stored in muscle. Instead of increasing energy levels, the excess glucose is lost through urination.
- High Levels of Fatigue – When the cell is deprived of glucose, it often causes irritability and tiredness.
- Blurry Vision – When glucose levels in the bloodstream become too high, the body robs the lenses of the eyes of much-needed fluid, affecting the ability to focus clearly.
- Darkened Skin Areas – Type II diabetes sufferers often develop acanthosis nigricans, which are patches of velvety, dark skin in the creases and folds of the body – typically around the neck and armpits.
What Causes Type II Diabetes?
Men and women affected by type II diabetes develop a resistance to insulin or fail to produce sufficient amounts of insulin in their pancreas. There is no known cause for the disease, however, exposure to some environmental conditions and genetics are likely correlating risk factors.
Doctors believe that the cells dysfunction in the pancreas or the cell loses its regulating and signaling functions. Other cases link a genetic predisposition (like obesity) to developing the disease or that the liver releases too much glucose from stored muscle and body fat. More than likely, a combination of risk factors increases the potential development of the disease. Fortunately, ongoing research continues to seek out causes of type II diabetes and how to treat the disease effectively.
Doctors have yet to fully comprehend why some portion of the population develop type II diabetes and others never do. However, there are specific risk factors that have been directly linked to the disease. These include:
- Excess Weight – The greater amount of fatty tissue the individual has, the more likely they are to develop the disease.
- Fat Distribution – Individuals with an excess amount of stored body fat in the abdomen are at greater risk than those that store their fat in the thighs and hips.
- Race – Asian Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Blacks are more likely to develop the disease than Caucasians.
- Inactivity – The lack of physical activity makes it more challenging for the body to control weight, burn off excess glucose and make cells sensitive to insulin.
- Family History – If an individual’s sibling or parent developed type II diabetes, they likely have a greater potential of developing the disease.
- Prediabetic Conditions – Untreated prediabetic conditions including blood glucose levels higher than normal can increase the potential of developing type II diabetes.
- Age – The older an individual becomes, especially after reaching 45 years old, the more dramatic the increased risk of developing the disease.
- Gestational Diabetes – Childbearing women who developed gestational diabetes when pregnant have an increased potential of developing type II diabetes.
- Female-Related Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – Obesity, excess hair growth, and irregular menstrual periods associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome tend to increase the potential of developing diabetes.
Diagnosing Type II Diabetes
The diagnostician or doctor will look for verifiable signs or indicators of diabetes by testing the blood looking for specific features including:
- OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test)
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
Treating Type II Diabetes
Doctors can recommend numerous effective treatments for managing type II diabetes that include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Monitoring your blood sugar levels
- Exercising routinely
- Insulin therapy
- Diabetes medication
Following the doctor’s recommendations by monitoring blood sugar levels to ensure the levels remain close to normal can help prevent or at least delay many of the complications associated with the disease.
Healthy eating requires diets high in fiber and low in fat that include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Preparing meals using a low glycemic index is often helpful, as is a registered dietitian who can formulate the ideal meal plan based on food preferences, healthy goals and changes in lifestyle habits.
Physical activity designed to minimize the symptoms of type II diabetes often include routine daily aerobic exercise or a combination of highly effective exercise including dancing or walking on most days. Resistance training like yoga or weightlifting can also assist in monitoring blood sugar levels very effectively.
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