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What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type two diabetes is the most common form and is growing dramatically. Why does it happen? What are the signs, symptoms, and risk factors?

By
Rob Lamberts, MD,
Episode #019

If diet and/or weight loss doesn’t work, the next step is to use oral medication to bring the blood glucose levels down. If these medications don’t work, then insulin injection is the next step. Most of my Type 2 diabetics don’t use insulin.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk for Diabetes?

So how can you reduce your risk for developing diabetes? The easy answer is to keep from becoming an apple. But even people who are not overweight can become Type 2 diabetics, so the real key is to know your risk. The main way to know this is to know your family history. Do you have any immediate family members with diabetes?

The second--and equally important thing-- is to get your cholesterol checked. Refer to my cholesterol podcast for a discussion on this. If you have no other risk factors, you should get your cholesterol checked every five years after age thirty, and you should get it checked more often if your risk is higher. Remember that most people with Type 2 diabetes don’t have the symptoms of frequent thirst and urination that most people associate with diabetes.

What to Do if You Have Type 2 Diabetes

For people who do have Type 2 diabetes, the key to staying healthy is close monitoring. Here are my Quick and Dirty Tips for people with Type 2 diabetes:

1.      Monitor your sugars – get a home glucose monitor and check your sugar at least once a day. It’s hard to hit a target with your eyes shut. Knowing your glucose levels--especially the fasting level done before breakfast--is key.

2.      Look out for complications – you and your doctor should be monitoring for numbness and tingling in the feet, which could be a sign of early nerve damage. You should also be screened for kidney damage at least once a year.

3.      Know your A1c – Hemoglobin A1c is a blood test that measures how sugar-coated your red blood cells get over a three month period. It is essential to get this checked two or more times each year to know your real control.

4.      Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control – Once a person develops diabetes, the risk of heart disease and stroke goes up significantly. That means that high blood pressure and cholesterol should be treated aggressively.

5.      Take a baby aspirin once a day – It’s cheap insurance for people with increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

6.      Be educated – This is the best defense against this deadly disease. If you have diabetes, or are close to someone who does, you should become experts on it. You should know more about it than your doctor.

There is a whole lot more to say, but I’ll stop here. If you have more questions about diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the American Diabetes Association website has excellent information. Find it at diabetes.org.

Also on Audible is the latest audiobook by Lisa Marshall my fellow Quick and Dirty Tips podcaster, The Public Speaker. It’s called The Public Speaker's Guide To Ace Your Job Interview and is now available from iTunes and Audible.

If you have questions you want answered, send them to housecalldoctor@quickanddirtytips.com. You can find me on Twitter as @housecalldoc and on Facebook under “House Call Doctor.”

Let me remind you that this article is for informational purposes only. My goal is to add to your medical knowledge and translate some of the weird medical stuff you hear, so when you do go to your doctor, your visits will be more fruitful. I don’t intend to replace your doctor; he or she is the one you should always consult about your own medical condition.

Catch you next time! Stay Healthy!

Overweight Man image courtesy of Shutterstock

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