Unraveling Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Insights into a Growing Health Concern

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is the most common type of diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 38.4 million Americans have diabetes, and 95% of the cases are type 2 diabetes. The condition mostly affects people 45 years and older, but more and more young adults, teens, and children are also developing it. […]
March 29, 2024
Dr. Ves Gitchev
Dr. Ves Gitchev MD is the Director of Global Healthcare Partnerships at Science 37. A pioneer and innovator with nearly 2 decades of experience in the research industry, Dr. Gitchev's focus is on delivering the highest quality results to drive scientific advancement.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is the most common type of diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 38.4 million Americans have diabetes, and 95% of the cases are type 2 diabetes. The condition mostly affects people 45 years and older, but more and more young adults, teens, and children are also developing it.

What is Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition that happens when your body becomes unable to use insulin or produce enough of it to maintain normal glucose levels. Healthy glucose (blood sugar) levels are 72 to 99 mg/dl before meals and less than 140 mg/dl two hours after meals.If you have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar levels consistently measure 126 mg/dl or above. 

In type 2 diabetes, there are two major issues: either the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body don't respond properly to insulin.

Insufficient Insulin Production by the Pancreas

Normally, your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone crucial for regulating blood sugar levels. However, when you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas doesn't make enough insulin, or sometimes it doesn't work as effectively as it should. This means there's insufficient insulin to help glucose get into your cells, leaving too much sugar circulating in your bloodstream.

Poor Response of Cells to Insulin

In some cases, the pancreas manages to produce insulin. However, the cells in your body may not respond to it properly. This means that even though insulin is available, the cells don't open up enough to let glucose in. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, resulting in high blood sugar levels, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms and Risk Factors for T2D Mellitus

Type 2 diabetes is often sneaky – it can develop slowly over many years, and sometimes, you might not even notice any symptoms at all. That's why it's crucial to understand the risk factors. These are like warning signs that could indicate you're at higher risk of developing diabetes.

  • Family history: If someone in your family, like a parent or sibling, has diabetes, it increases your risk. Genes play a role here, so knowing your family history is important.
  • Weight: Being overweight or obese is a big risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Extra weight, especially around your belly, makes it harder for your body to use insulin effectively.
  • Lifestyle choices: Not being active enough or having an unhealthy diet can increase your risk. Too much junk food, sugary drinks, or not enough exercise can make your body more insulin-resistant, leading to diabetes.
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol: Having either of these conditions can also increase your risk. They're often linked to diabetes because they're all related to how your body handles sugar and fats.
  • Gestational diabetes: If you had diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, you're more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later on in life.

You should talk to your doctor if any of these risk factors sound familiar. Your doctor will perform a simple blood test to check your sugar levels and see if you're at risk of diabetes. Remember, catching it early can make a big difference in managing it effectively. With that said, some common type 2 diabetes symptoms include:

  • Feeling hungrier than usual
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Slow healing of sores and cuts
  • Dry skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss

Complications

Diabetes Mellitus affects major organs, including kidneys, eyes, nerves, blood vessels, and the heart. Besides, its risk factors are also risk factors for other critical conditions. Therefore, it's crucial to manage and control blood sugar levels as this lowers the risk for diabetes mellitus and other medical complications like:

  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Skin conditions
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Eye damage
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hearing impairment
  • Slow healing
  • Dementia
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Other nerve damage

Prevention and Management

A healthy lifestyle choice is key to preventing type 2 diabetes. Even if you've been told you have insulin resistance or pre-diabetes, meaning your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range, there's a lot you can do to prevent it from progressing further. Here's how:

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes various nutritious foods. 
  • Make regular physical activity a part of your must do’s, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. This could be anything you enjoy – walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing – as long as it gets your heart pumping and your muscles working.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you're obese or overweight, losing weight (even a small amount) can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Focus on making gradual, sustainable changes to your eating habits and increasing your physical activity level to achieve a healthy weight.
  • Your doctor will give you target ranges to aim for, and it's important to stay within them as much as possible. If your numbers consistently run too high or too low, it could signal a need for adjustments to your treatment plan.
  • Don't skip doses or take more than prescribed as this can disrupt your blood sugar levels and increase your risk of complications.
  • Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking.

Diagnosis and Screening

Diagnosing type 2 diabetes mellitus typically involves blood tests to measure fasting plasma glucose levels, oral glucose tolerance tests, and HbA1c levels. These tests indicate average blood sugar levels over the past few months. Screening guidelines recommend regular testing for those at high risk, including those with a family history of diabetes, obesity, or other risk factors.

Monitoring and Complications Prevention

Regularly monitoring blood glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and kidney function is essential for preventing diabetes-related complications. This includes screening for eye problems (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), cardiovascular disease, and foot complications. Early detection and proactive management can help minimize the risk of complications and improve long-term outcomes.

Join Science 37 Type 2 Diabetes Clinical Trial

The quest for better treatments and advancements in diabetes care continues. Clinical trials help in this journey, as they pave the way for discovering new treatments and improving existing ones. If you're interested in contributing to advancing knowledge about type 2 diabetes and potentially accessing cutting-edge treatments, consider participating in our clinical trial.

Science 37 offers clinical trials to explore new avenues for managing type 2 diabetes. Join our clinical trial today and participate in the journey towards improved health and well-being for people with type 2 diabetes.

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