What is type 2 diabetes?
If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels are too high. In type 2 diabetes, this occurs because your body does not make enough insulin or does not use it well, which is known as insulin resistance. If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, you may be able to prevent or delay your development.
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Who is at risk of having type 2 diabetes?
Many people are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Your chances of developing it depend on a combination of risk factors, such as your genes and lifestyle. Risk factors include:
- Having prediabetes: Means that you have higher blood sugar levels than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Being 45 years old or older
- Having family members with diabetes
- Being African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Having high blood pressure
- Having a low level of good cholesterol (HDL) or a high level of triglycerides
- Having had diabetes in pregnancy
- Having given birth to a baby who weighs nine pounds or more
- Having an inactive lifestyle
- Having a heart disease or having a stroke
- Having depression
- Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Having acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition that makes it dark and thick, especially around your neck or armpits
How can I prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes?
If you are at risk for developing diabetes, you may be able to avoid or delay it. Most things you should do involve a healthier lifestyle. If you make these changes, you will also get other health benefits. You can reduce the risk of other diseases and probably feel better and have more energy. The changes are:
Lose weight and keep it. Weight control is an important part of diabetes prevention. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing between five and 10 percent of your current weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds (90.7 kilos), your goal would be to lose between 10 and 20 pounds (4.5 and 9 kilos). And once you lose the weight, it’s important that you do not recover it
Follow a healthy eating plan. It is important to reduce the amount of calories you consume and drink each day, so you can lose weight and not get it back. To achieve this, your diet should include smaller portions and less fat and sugar. You should also eat foods from each food group, including many whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It is also a good idea to limit red meat and avoid processed meats
Exercise regularly. Exercise has many health benefits, including helping you lose weight and lower your blood sugar levels. Both decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your healthcare provider to determine what types of exercises are best for you. You can start slowly until you reach your goal
Do not smoke. Smoking can contribute to insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you already smoke, try to quit
Talk to your health care provider to see if there is anything else you can do to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. If you are at high risk, your provider may suggest taking some medication for diabetes.
Tests and check-ups for diabetes
People who take control of their own diabetes care by eating healthy foods and leading active lifestyles often have good control of their blood sugar levels. However, regular medical exams and check-ups are necessary. These consultations give you the possibility of:
- Ask your health care provider questions
- Learn more about diabetes and what you can do to keep your blood sugar level in your desired range
- Verify that you are taking the medications in the correct way
- Go to the doctor
Visit the diabetologist for an exam every 3 to 6 months. During this exam, the doctor should check you:
- Blood pressure
- The weight
- The feet
- Also visit the dentist every 6 months.
An ophthalmologist should check your eyes every year. Consult with an ophthalmologist who treats people with diabetes.
If you have eye problems due to diabetes, you will probably visit your ophthalmologist more frequently.
The doctor should check the pulses on the feet and their reflexes at least once a year. Also, you should look for:
- Loss of sensation in any part of the feet (peripheral neuropathy)
If you have had ulcers on your feet before, see a doctor every 3 to 6 months. It is always a good idea to ask the doctor to check your feet.
Hemoglobin A1c tests
An A1c lab test shows how well you are controlling your blood sugar levels over a period of three months.
The normal level is less than 5.7%. Most diabetics should aim for an A1c of less than 7%. Some people have a greater goal. The doctor will help you decide what your goal should be.
Higher A1c levels mean your blood sugar level is higher and you may be more likely to have complications from your diabetes.
A lipid profile test measures cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. You should have this type of examination in the morning, after not having eaten since the previous night.
Adults with type 2 diabetes should have this test every 5 years. People with high cholesterol can have this test more often.
Blood pressure should be measured at all visits.
Once a year, you should have a urine test, which looks for a protein called albumin.
Your provider will also order you to have a blood test every year to measure how well your kidneys are working.
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