What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
The 14th of November is World Diabetes Day! We’re highlighting the symptoms of type 2 diabetes ahead of this year’s World Diabetes Day campaign, which is focusing on women specifically.
The International Diabetes Federation is promoting the importance of affordable and equitable access to the essential diabetes medicines and technologies, self-management education and information women require to achieve optimal diabetes outcomes and strengthen their capacity to prevent type 2 diabetes.
At OurPath, we focus on helping people reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes or its complications. Type 2 diabetes affects over 4 million people in the UK, with a further 5 million at risk of developing it. It costs the NHS £9bn a year, and in most cases can actually be prevented or delayed through simple lifestyle changes.
Our 12-week programme is designed to help people make those changes and stick to them in the long-term.
So what is diabetes?
In a nutshell diabetes means blood sugar levels are not regulated properly. It all comes down to the hormone known as insulin and what the body does with it.
The purpose of insulin is to control the glucose levels in the bloodstream. Yet in people living with diabetes either the pancreas has trouble producing sufficient, or any, insulin, or cells in the body don’t respond correctly to insulin. The result: poorly regulated blood sugar levels.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. The main difference is that type 1 is an autoimmune disease, whereas type 2 can be brought about due to multiple factors, including lifestyle. Both affect blood sugar regulation and can have very serious long-term implications if not managed properly.
What are some of the possible complications of developing diabetes?
People with diabetes have much higher chances of getting heart disease. Other complications associated with diabetes include eye problems, foot and skin infections, kidney disease, strokes, and high cholesterol levels. In fact, most of the money spent by the NHS on diabetes is spent on treating its complications rather than the disease itself.
Type 2 diabetes generally develops later in their life. As with heart disease and lung cancer, some of the risk of developing it is genetic. But the bulk of it is down to diet and lifestyle – which are also key to preventing or managing the condition.
By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, plus improve other aspects of your health such as your weight, fitness, and blood pressure. Sounds like a no brainer, right?
Who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
Staggeringly, 1 in 3 people are living with what’s known as ‘pre-diabetes’, a precursor to developing full-blown type 2. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes UK, increases as we get older. Highest risk groups are people over 40, and anyone of African-Caribbean, Black African and South Asian descent over 25, plus anyone overweight, especially those carrying excess weight around their middle, or anyone with a close relative who has type 2 diabetes.
Crucially though, anyone can be susceptible to type 2 diabetes depending on their lifestyle. That’s why it is important to know the symptoms to reduce your own chances of developing it and to be able to spot the signs in yourself or in others.
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
If you think you might be at risk of having type 2 diabetes, it’s worth looking out for the following symptoms commonly associated with the condition:
- Urinating more frequently than usual
- Feeling particularly thirsty
- Regular tiredness
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- Genital itching or regular thrush outbreaks
- Slow healing of wounds and cuts and scrapes
- Blurry vision, especially as a result of dry eyes
Bear in mind that sometimes it’s hard to notice some of the symptoms; people can be living with type 2 diabetes without realising it. So if you’re particularly at risk it’s important to keep on top of your health.
Having said that, it is a truth universally acknowledged that typing your symptoms into Google is rarely a good idea. Chances are you’ll increase your blood pressure just by considering the many and varied possibilities. If you do want to get informed, stay level-headed and consult your doctor.
Can you prevent type 2 diabetes?
You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or of pre-diabetes becoming type 2 diabetes, by living a healthy lifestyle which includes eating well, exercising regularly and being mindful of the risks. The NHS outline the three key areas of lifestyle to pay attention to, including diet, exercise and weight management.
But what if you are already living with type 2 diabetes? Is the condition reversible or curable? As we’ve covered in one of our previous blog posts, the answer to that one is ‘it depends’.
How OurPath can help
Our 12-week programme helps people to make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle in order to reduce their risk of developing chronic lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Of course, making positive changes is not just for people at risk of diabetes, but for anyone wishing to live a healthier, balanced life. You can find out more about the OurPath programme here.