Type 2 Diabetes | Nucleus Health


Type 2 diabetes is a condition
in which your blood sugar level is too high. After you eat foods that
contain carbohydrates, chemicals in your
small intestine break them down into single
sugar molecules called glucose. Next, the cells lining
your small intestine absorb the glucose, which
passes into the bloodstream. When the blood
reaches your pancreas, beta cells inside the pancreas
detect the rising glucose levels. To reduce the glucose
level, your beta cells release insulin into
your bloodstream. As the blood circulates
through your body, the insulin and glucose
exit the bloodstream into your tissues to
reach your body’s cells. Most cells of the body
have certain receptors on their surface that bind
to the circulating insulin. Insulin acts like
a key in a lock to open up the cell so that
the circulating glucose can get inside the cell. Now, your cell can
use the glucose to produce the energy it
needs to function properly. If you have type 2 diabetes,
either your pancreas does not produce enough
insulin or your body’s cells resist its effects or both. If you have insulin resistance,
your insulin cannot unlock the cells to let glucose
in because the locks, called receptors, are
abnormal or missing. As a result, glucose is
locked out of your cells. Consequently, the
amount of glucose builds up in your bloodstream
in a condition called hyperglycemia. To compensate for
hyperglycemia, your pancreas produces more and more insulin. Your overworked beta cells try
to keep up with the demand, but gradually lose their ability
to produce enough insulin. Due to hyperglycemia
and the lack of insulin, you may experience the
following classic symptoms of diabetes– excessive
hunger, excessive thirst, increased urine volume, and
unexplained weight loss. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
that may appear over time include fatigue, recurrent
infections, changes in vision, itching, and
tingling or prickling sensations in your skin. Life threatening complications
of type 2 diabetes include diabetic
ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic
syndrome, and hypoglycemia. If you don’t receive
treatment for hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis
can result. Because you no longer have
enough insulin circulating in your blood, your
cells can’t get the glucose they need
to produce energy. As a result, your body
turns to fats and proteins as an alternative
source of energy. During the fat
breakdown process, certain byproducts,
known as ketone bodies, accumulate in your
blood, resulting in a condition called ketosis. If ketones build up to
dangerously high levels in your bloodstream, you may
develop diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, which can lead
to coma and death. Another complication
resulting from failure to treat hyperglycemia
is called hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic
syndrome, or HHNS. As the insulin
deficiency continues, your blood glucose
level increases. In response, your kidneys filter
excess glucose out of the blood into urine, along with
large amounts of water. Unless you consume
large amounts of water, your kidneys cannot keep up
with the demand of removing the glucose from your
bloodstream and diluting it sufficiently in urine. As a result, your blood
becomes much more concentrated than normal, a condition
called hyperosmolarity. Hyperosmolarity pulls
water out of your body tissues into your bloodstream,
causing severe dehydration, which may lead to hyperosmolar
hypoglycemic nonketotic syndrome. Neurological symptoms, such as
seizures and coma, can occur. If you take an excessive
dose of diabetic medication, you may experience
an acute complication called hypoglycemia
or insulin shock. Excessive insulin or oral
hypoglycemic medication causes too much glucose
to go into cells, leaving an insufficient
amount in your bloodstream. Certain organs,
such as the brain, need a constant energy
supply to function properly. Because the brain’s primary
source of energy is glucose, it is the first organ affected
by lower glucose levels. When your brain
cells, called neurons, are starved for glucose,
they start to malfunction, causing symptoms such as
nervousness, shakiness, and confusion. If your glucose level
continues to drop, the electrical activity
of your neurons diminishes
significantly, resulting in seizures or diabetic coma. Over time, chronic
poorly controlled type 2 diabetes can cause
degenerative tissue damage, resulting in long
term complications such as atherosclerosis,
blindness, neuropathy, and renal failure. To avoid the complications
of type 2 diabetes, you can take steps to
keep your glucose level within a normal range using a
combination of blood glucose monitoring, a healthy
diet, regular exercise, and medications as necessary. You will need to check the
level of glucose in your blood frequently with a glucometer. To do this, you will
prick your finger with a small needle
called a lancet and place a drop of blood
on the strip attached to the glucometer. Based on your blood
glucose level, you may need to adjust your
meals, physical activity, or medication dose. Eating a healthy diet will help
to lower your glucose level when you eat a diet rich in
fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, have meals and snacks
about the same time every day, consume the right balance
of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, and minimize your
intake of high sugar foods. Getting regular exercise–
even just 30 minutes a day– will lower your
blood glucose level, decrease insulin resistance,
and may lead to weight loss. You may need to take one or
more diabetic medications to help lower blood glucose. Some of these medications
increase insulin production in your pancreas. Others decrease
insulin resistance in your skeletal muscles. Some treatments increase insulin
sensitivity in certain tissues. Others promote a slight
decrease in absorption of glucose in your
digestive system. If your type 2 diabetes cannot
be controlled with diet, exercise, and oral medications,
your doctor may prescribe insulin and train you to
inject it just under your skin. By treating and controlling
your blood glucose level, you may prevent the
occurrence of complications from type 2 diabetes.

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