Type 2 diabetes: What is it?

 Type 2 diabetes is a disease that results from having too much sugar in your blood. Blood sugar is called glucose. It’s your body’s most important source of energy – providing the fuel you need to live life to the fullest. It comes from the food you eat. 
                                                                                                                
In people with type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t respond to insulin in the right way, making it more difficult for cells to get the glucose needed to make energy. This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise. 
 
Having high blood glucose levels produces symptoms that are easy to dismiss or ignore, like feeling more tired or thirsty than usual. It’s important to pay attention to the signals your body is sending. If you can recognize early symptoms of type 2 diabetes, you can be aggressive about preventing and treating the disease.
 

Why should you be concerned?

Diabetes is a serious disease. It’s the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure and is associated with 60% of all amputations (loss of limbs). Diabetes is also closely linked with heart disease and stroke. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the US. 
 
Diabetes is a very costly disease. People with type 2 diabetes require more medical care and lose more time from work because of the illness and/or related health problems.
 
Diabetes can keep you from living your life to the fullest. If your diabetes is undiagnosed or poorly controlled, chances are you’re not feeling that great. You might be more tired and have less interest in doing things that once gave you pleasure. 
 

What you can do

Know the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and do what you can to reduce your risk. Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease – meaning its course is affected by choices you make every day about things like the food you eat, how much exercise you get (or don’t get), and the amount of stress in your life.
Talk to your physician about lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. Here are three simple changes you can begin making today to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.
 

National Resources
 
1. National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is a comprehensive resource for information and education on diabetes. NDEP translates the latest science on diabetes into practical, easy to follow information. And their message is powerful: diabetes is serious, common and costly yet controllable and, for type 2, preventable.   NDEP allows you to search for information and publications by age, diabetes status, ethnicity and language. Helpful resources include: 
 
  • Control Your Diabetes. For Life  
4 Steps to Control Your Diabetes for Life
This is a step-wise program to help people understand, monitor and manage their diabetes. It’s designed for people newly diagnosed with diabetes. The materials can be downloaded for free or you can order free copies. A version is also available in Spanish.
 
  • Small Steps. Big rewards. 
      Your GAME PLAN to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes [Booklets}
This program includes three booklets to help people assess their risk for developing type 2 diabetes and implement changes to prevent or delay the onset of disease. The program includes tools to help you track your activities and a fat and calorie counter.   The program can be downloaded on-line and/or you can order a copy for free. Also available in Spanish. 
 
Explains the importance of knowing your blood sugar numbers and features information on the A1C test, self-monitoring blood glucose, and working with a health care team to set blood glucose targets and reach them.
 
  • Tips for Helping a Person with Diabetes [PDF]
Tip sheet is for people caring for a loved one with diabetes with practical suggestions for helping others manage their diabetes.
 
Weekly podcasts of real people who share their strategies for managing diabetes every day.
 
2.   My Diabetes Tools from the American Heart Association [Website]
 
Having type 2 diabetes puts you at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association has developed a series of tools to help people prevent and manage diabetes. Resources include:
 
  • My Diabetes Health Assessment can help assess your risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years and offers strategies to lower your risk. [Interactive quiz]
  • Glucose Tracking Log to keep track of your blood glucose levels. [PDF]
  • Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Tracker [PDF]
Download and print these charts to help you track your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.   Bring and share them with your health care team at your regular medical appointments.
 
3. The Face of Diabetes [Publication]
 
The November 2009 issue of MedLine Plus focused on diabetes and features interviews with people from all walks of life who talk about how they are handling this health challenge. MedLine Plus is produced by the National Institute of Health, the National Library of Medicine and Friends of the National Library of Medicine. Subscriptions are available free of charge.
 
4. Diabetes Medicines
 
MedlinePlus features a list and description of commonly prescribed medicines for type 2 diabetes. [Website]
 
 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2010-2013  Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Office of Continuing Medical Education. All rights reserved.