Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions around the world and in the United States. About 8.5 percent of adults worldwide and 9.3 percent of all AmericansTrusted Source live with the condition. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form you may have heard of, but you might be surprised by what you still don’t know. Ongoing research in recent years has improved diagnosis, treatment, and knowledge about type 2 diabetes, allowing for better prevention and management. Here are six things everyone should know about type 2 diabetes.
It’s a chronic condition and currently has no cure
Simply put, diabetes is a condition that occurs when your body has a problem managing its blood sugar levels. It is due to the body’s inability to either make or use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Either your body doesn’t produce enough or any insulin, or the cells of the body are resistant and unable to use the insulin it creates effectively. If your body can’t use insulin to metabolize glucose, a simple sugar, it will build up in your blood, leading to high blood sugar levels. As a result of cellular resistance, the various cells in your body won’t get the energy they need to function properly, causing further problems. Diabetes is a chronic condition, which means it lasts a long time. Currently, there is no cure, so it takes careful management and sometimes medication to keep blood sugar levels within their target range.
It’s on the rise, especially in young adults
The number of people with diabetes around the world has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, and type 2 diabetes makes up most of these cases, according to the World Health OrganizationTrusted Source. Even more concerning is that type 2 diabetes was once only seen in adults but is now more and more commonly diagnosed in young adults as well. This is likely because type 2 diabetes is linked to a higher body mass index (BMI) and obesity, an issue that’s becoming more common among younger people today.
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It can go unnoticed for years
Many cases of type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed because of a lack of symptoms or because people don’t recognize them as due to diabetes. Causes of symptoms such as fatigue, increased hunger, and increased thirst are sometimes hard to pin down, and often develop over a long period of time, if at all. For this reason, it’s especially important to get tested. Anyone 45 or older should get testedTrusted Source for diabetes, especially if you’re overweight. If you’re overweight and under 45, you may still want to consider being tested, since being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases even has a free diabetes risk testTrusted Source that will help you see if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes.
It can lead to serious complications if unchecked
If it’s left undiagnosed and untreated for too long, type 2 diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications. The same is true for people who neglect to manage their diabetes properly. Cardiovascular diseaseTrusted Source, diabetic eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, hearing damage, and increased risk for stroke and Alzheimer’s disease are among the major complications that people with type 2 diabetes face. Maintaining a close watch on blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure are extremely important in lowering these risks. Early detection and treatment, a healthy lifestyle, and regular checkups are key.
It poses a higher risk to some groups of people
It’s not completely understood why diabetes occurs in certain people and not others, but research shows that some groups face a higher riskTrusted Source. People who have the following characteristics are more likely to have type 2 diabetes than those who don’t:
- overweight or
- carry most of
- their fat in their midsection (as opposed to their thighs or buttocks)
- exercising less than three times a week
- family history
- of diabetes, with a parent or sibling who has the condition
- history of
- gestational diabetes
- history of
- history of
- insulin resistance, such as those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander, and/or Asian American background
- aged 45 or
- those with
- high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and those with high blood