Health Team

Lifestyle changes, medications combat Type 2 diabetes

Posted September 20

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Of the 29 million people diagnosed with diabetes, 8 million people have it but don't know it. Type 2 diabetes makes up about 95 percent of cases, and it can be diagnosed at any age.

The body produces insulin but does not use it properly to break down glucose in the blood. So, your blood sugar builds up, which over time can raise your risk for heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and other serious conditions.

Experts with WebMD say many people don't know the early warning signs.

People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms, but when they do appear, the most common symptom is frequent urination and excessive thirst.

Their mouths may be dry, their appetites increase and people may experience unusual weight loss or weight gain. With later symptoms, you may have headaches, blurred vision and fatigue as a result of higher levels of blood sugar.

Signs of serious problems may include cuts or sores that are slow to heal.

In women, yeast infections or urinary tract infections can become a problem.

Also, people could have itchy skin, especially around the groin.

Some risk factors you cannot control are your race or ethnicity: Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans and Asians are at higher risk.

Having a parent or sibling with diabetes also boosts your risk. Being 45 and older raises your risk, too.

The good news is you can control some risk factors with simple lifestyle changes:

– If you're overweight or obese, especially around the waist, losing weight can help ward off diabetes.

– Increase your physical activity.

– Greatly reduce or eliminate red meat, processed meat, high-fat dairy products and sweets.

To diagnose diabetes, your doctor may choose to do a fasting or random blood sugar test if you already have symptoms or as a screening tool.

The patient may be pre-diabetic, and the doctor may simply prescribe lifestyle changes—losing weight with a healthier diet and more physical activity—and then follow up to see if that has helped reduce your risk.

Some patients who are diagnosed with diabetes will respond to diet and exercise. Some will require oral medications or even insulin at the time of diagnosis.

Some oral anti-diabetes medicines work by telling your pancreas to make more insulin while others help your body use insulin more effectively.

Others block the digestion of starches or slow insulin breakdown.

The key is to see your doctor and get tested.


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