Learn more about Diabetes in Dubai from the experts at Mediclinic Welcare Hospital
11 November 2018| Last updated on 11 November 2018
Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disease that occurs when your body has difficulty producing or using a hormone called insulin.
Insulin is essential to normal metabolism because it regulates how glucose, the sugar found in our blood that is our main source of a body’s energy, enters our cells.
When your body can’t produce or use insulin correctly, too much glucose builds up in your blood.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body’s immune system in the pancreas mistaking them for foreign invaders) that stops your body from making insulin. It remains unclear what triggers the disease.
Evidence suggests that a person’s genetic makeup or environmental factors, such as viral infections, can play a role. About 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop quickly. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens and young adults. If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to take insulin every day to survive.
Type 2 Diabetes
The overwhelming majority of diabetes cases, as much as 95%, involve the type 2 form of the disease. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels.
It occurs when the pancreas can no longer make enough of a hormone called insulin, and the body cannot effectively use the insulin being produced; a condition known as insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (though increasingly in obese children, teens, and young adults). You may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk.
Most people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Excess weight, particularly in the abdomen, makes it difficult for cells to respond to insulin, resulting in high blood glucose.
But obesity is not the only contributing factor.
A combination of genetics, ethnicity, age and environmental factors also affect whether a person develops the disease.
Early symptoms can include frequent urination, excessive thirst, persistent fatigue and a tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. There may be no symptoms until long after someone has developed diabetes, which is one reason there is a growing emphasis on early screening.
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes your baby could be at higher risk for health complications.
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Your baby is more likely to become obese as a child or teen, and more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life too.
What is prediabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is often preceded by prediabetes.
Prediabetes is a more vague diagnosis where blood sugar is elevated either at fasting or after a meal, yet not so high that it prompts a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. But many people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years.
Prediabetes also raises the risk for heart disease and stroke. You can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes. These include losing extra weight if you are overweight and getting more exercise.
If you are overweight, losing 5% to 10% of your weight can make a difference. For exercise, aim for at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity. Don’t let more than two days go by without being active.
You’re at risk for developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are overweight
- Are age 45 or older
- Have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Are physically active less than 3 times a week
- Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Individuals at risk of diabetes are urged to take actions to head off the disease even earlier
So how should you do that?
The first step is to know yourself. Go for an annual physical exam that includes a fasting blood test and get your blood sugar and triglycerides tested. Use this as a moment to weigh in, and you can calculate your BMI (ratio of weight to height).
Then, keep track of your test results to observe trends over the years. Knowing your data and watching how values change is a key part in taking ownership of your health.
If you find that your BMI, fasting triglycerides, and/or fasting blood glucose levels are elevated, you can take action.
Patients commonly go to one extreme, resulting in an unsustainable plan, or do nothing because they are overwhelmed.
Instead, consider one change at a time to improve yourself. You can slowly create changes in your eating plan that will allow you to enjoy living without elevated blood sugars in the decades to come.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight if you’re overweight, healthy eating, and getting regular physical activity.
Your best bet for healthy diet?
Avoid extremes by eating low-to-moderate amounts of carbohydrates, emphasizing higher-fiber carbs such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains and make a shift to getting more of your protein and fat from plant foods.
For protein, turn to beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. These foods also contain fiber, which most people don’t get enough of. For fats, look to avocados, avocado oil, olive oil, and nut and seed oils.
- People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke as people without diabetes and at an earlier age.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult-onset blindness.
- Good control of diabetes significantly reduces the risk of developing complications and prevents complications from getting worse.
- Smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.
- People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to develop serious related health problems, including heart and kidney disease.
Authored by Rabia Cherqaoui, Dr., M.D., F.A.C.E.
Mediclinic Welcare Hospital, Dubai