A Primer On Type 2 Diabetes

SHELLEY ROSS early show CBS

About a third of those who have Type 2 diabetes don't even know they have it. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the incidence of that illness has risen by a third since 1990, and about 35 million Americans – including about 300,000 children – have it.

CBS News Health Contributor Dr. Jordan Metzl visits The Saturday Early Show to share advice on how to keep Type 2 diabetes in check.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and usually occurs in adulthood. It happens when the pancreas does not make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to the insulin.

Many people with Type 2 diabetes do not even know they have it, although it is a serious condition. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common due to the growing number of older Americans, increasing obesity, and a lack of exercise. Without proper management, long-term health risks such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure can occur. While there are medications to keep the disease in check, many doctors recommend lifestyle changes.

Here is part of what Dr. Metzl has to say about it.

WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM TYPE 1 DIABETES?
With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce enough of the hormone insulin. Insulin allows the sugar glucose to enter body cells. Once glucose enters a cell, it is used as fuel. People with Type 1 diabetes often require regular insulin shots.

With Type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs in adulthood, the pancreas cannot prevent dangerous rises in the blood sugar glucose because the body's cells have become resistant to insulin and the pancreas can't supply enough extra to compensate. If not treated, Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious -- even life-threatening -- conditions such as blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage and heart disease.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES?

  • EXCESSIVE THIRST
  • INCREASED URINATION
  • FATIGUE
  • BLURRED VISION
These are the symptoms for adults and it's important to know that they can be very different in children. For instance, a child with Type 2 diabetes can develop a skin problem known as acanthosis, which is characterized by velvety, dark colored patches of skin.

Risk Factors:

  • ETHNICITY: African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are at a greater risk than the general population.

  • FAMILY HISTORY: If a close blood relative (and that includes your parents or siblings) have had Type 2 diabetes, then you are at a greater risk.

  • GESTATIONAL DIABETES: Gestational diabetes is a form of the disease that is typically temporary and develops during the third month of pregnancy. A woman who's had it is more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

  • EXCESS WEIGHT: No matter what your age, if you are significantly overweight then you are at a greater risk. eople with abdominal fat (otherwise known as "the spare tire") are at particular risk.
ARE THERE ANY MEDICATIONS AVAILABLE TO TREAT TYPE 2 DIABETES?

There are medications available that can control glucose levels. However, many doctors prescribe lifestyle changes as the first course of action, including:

  • DIET: It is important to limit your fat intake as well as cholesterol. You'll also want to avoid too much protein and stay away from salty foods.

  • WEIGHT CONTROL: For people with Type 2 diabetes, even minor weight loss can improve your blood glucose levels. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can control progression of the disease. Unfortunately, a side effect of the Type 2 diabetes medications is weight gain.

  • EXERCISE: Between 1977 and 1995, walking and cycling among children ages 5 to 15 dropped 40 percent. This may help explain why so many children are now getting Type 2 diabetes. So it's important for children and adults to get moving. We are not saying someone has to go out and run a marathon. Research has shown that regular moderate exercise, such as taking a brisk walk, improves insulin sensitivity.


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  • Steve Pearson

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