Type 2 diabetes, often called non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90%-95% of the nearly 26 million people with diabetes in the U.S. In addition, 79 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition that puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or is ineffective, and the body is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly. When the insulin is not effective, it is called insulin resistance. When there isn't enough insulin or it is ineffective, sugar (glucose) can't get into the body's cells. When sugar builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body's cells are not able to function properly. Other problems associated with the buildup of sugar in the blood include:
If you're one of the nearly 24 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes, you know your body has difficulty using or producing insulin. What can you do to manage the disease? We asked Jill Crandall, MD, professor of clinical medicine and director of the diabetes clinical trials unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, to debunk some myths and help you learn to live well.
Dehydration. The buildup of sugar in the blood can cause an increase in urination (to try to clear the sugar from the body). When the kidneys lose the sugar through the urine, a large amount of water is also lost, causing dehydration.
Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma. When a person with type 2 diabetes becomes severely dehydrated and is not able to drink enough fluids to make up for the fluid losses, he or she may develop this life-threatening complication.
Damage to the body. Over time, the high sugar levels in the blood may damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart, and predispose a person to atherosclerosis (hardening) of the large arteries, which can cause heart attack and stroke.
Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?
Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. However, people at highest risk for the disease are those who are obese or overweight, women who have had gestational diabetes, people with family members who have type 2 diabetes, and people who have metabolic syndrome (a cluster of problems that include high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDL (''good'') cholesterol, high LDL (''bad'') cholesterol, and high blood pressure). In addition, older people are more susceptible to developing the disease, because aging makes the body less tolerant of sugars.
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