The food we eat breaks down into glucose, a type of sugar, which then moves to the blood stream and provides the body energy. In order for the glucose to reach our cells, there must be the presence of insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a gland found behind the stomach.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and the glucose in the body is not used for energy but instead passes out through the urine. People with diabetes may also face insulin resistance, a condition where the body does not use insulin properly.
Type 2 diabetes can often cause of kidney failure, limb amputation, and blindness as a by product. People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing and succumbing to heart failure and cardiovascular disease – in fact, those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have twice as high a death rate from heart disease and stroke risk than those without diabetes.
When your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with diabetes, you may have a condition called prediabetes. People with prediabetes are also at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Symptoms of gestational diabetes often don’t manifest until the condition has progressed significantly. This is the reason why type 2 diabetes can often go undiagnosed for years. Some telltale signs of type 2 are:
Being hungry even if you have eaten
Wounds which heal slower than usual
Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
If you experience any of these signs you should consult your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible.
Who should be tested for prediabetes and diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, adults who are overweight or obese and exhibit symptoms of diabetes should be tested. Those who are not at high risk to develop diabetes should still get tested after the age of 25.
You are at a higher risk for developing prediabetes and diabetes if you:
- Are physically inactive
- Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- Are of African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander ethnicity
- Gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes
- Have high blood pressure-140/90 mmHg or above-or being treated for high blood pressure
- Have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS
- Have impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) on previous testing
- Having other conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as severe obesity or a condition called acanthosis nigricans, characterized by a dark, velvety rash around the neck or armpits
- Have a history of cardiovascular disease
If results of testing are normal, testing should be repeated at least every 3 years. Doctors may recommend more frequent testing depending on initial results and risk status.