Type 2 diabetes, once called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90% to 95% of the 13 million men with diabetes.
Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, sugar (glucose) can't get into the body's cells to be used for fuel. 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 build up of sugar in the blood include:
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Dehydration. The build up 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, they may develop this life-threatening complication.
Damage to the body. Over time, 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 that can cause heart attack and stroke.
Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?
Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. However, those 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 good 'HDL' cholesterol and a high bad 'LDL' cholesterol, and high blood pressure). In addition, older people are more susceptible to developing the disease since aging makes the body less tolerant of sugars.