Life with Type 2 diabetes
If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to Diabetes Australia around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.2 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated)1. And while it was once called adult onset diabetes, children and teenagers can develop Type 2 diabetes as well2.
What is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, or the insulin produced isn’t effective. Although its key causes are unclear, lifestyle and family history appear to be contributing factors.
Nearly 90% of all cases of diabetes are Type 21, and most situations can be managed by regular physical activity and healthy eating. However, as it is often progressive, most people will need oral medications and/or insulin injections in addition to these lifestyle changes.
Some of the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can seem harmless at first - you can even have the disease without knowing it. Symptoms of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) might include increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision.
You might experience other problems from having high blood sugar over an extended period of time, including frequent infections that are slow to heal, or tingling and numbness in your hands or feet. Some men with Type 2 diabetes might experience erectile dysfunction.
People with Type 2 diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin, or the cells in their body don’t respond properly to the insulin they produce (insulin resistance).
Why this happens isn’t fully known, but there seems to be a relationship between Type 2 diabetes and obesity, high cholesterol or high blood pressure2.
However, many people with these conditions do not get diabetes. Likewise, people who develop Type 2 diabetes may have normal body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. They include family history, ethnicity, weight, inactivity, age, pre-diabetes (a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal) and gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy)2.
Usually, your doctor will test you for diabetes by taking a blood sample and sending it to a laboratory, or by using a glucose meter. This will measure your blood’s glucose levels to determine if they’re too high or too low, indicating diabetes.
1. Diabetes Australia "Diabetes in Australia" https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/diabetes-in-australia
2. Diabetes Australia "Type 2 Diabetes" https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/type-2-diabetes
3. Better Health Victoria "Diabetes and erectile dysfunction" http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Diabetes_and_erectile_dysfunction