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Ask Ester: Type 2 diabetes

Q: What is type 2 diabetes?
A: Type 2 diabetes, or diabetes mellitus type 2, is a metabolic disorder that is primarily characterized by insulin resistance, relative insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia. OK, now in “our” language ó it is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, the main type of sugar in your blood. Glucose comes from the foods we eat and is the major source of energy needed to fuel the body’s functions. After you eat a meal the body breaks down the foods you ate into glucose and other nutrients, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract.
For people who do not have diabetes, the glucose level in their blood will trigger the pancreas to make the hormone insulin and release it into the bloodstream to lower it back down. People who have diabetes can’t make or respond to insulin properly. Without the insulin the glucose cannot get into the cells so it stays into blood stream. The result is a higher blood sugar level which can cause all kinds of symptoms and health problems.
Some complications of type 2 diabetes can include heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage.
If you suspect you might have type 2 diabetes, these can be signs and symptoms:
Increased thirst and frequent urination. Your kidneys’ response to high blood sugar levels is to flush it out through urination.
Extreme hunger. Without the insulin to move the glucose into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted of energy which triggers intense hunger. It may even persist after you eat.
Weight loss. Even with an increased appetite, hunger pains, you may lose weight. Without the proper absorption into the cells your muscles and fat stores may actually shrink.
Fatigue. Deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
Blurred vision. If your blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from surrounding tissuesóincluding the lenses of your eyes. I actually met someone who completely ignored his diabetes and became blind due to not changing his lifestyle and listening to the doctor.
Slow healing sores and/ or frequent infections. Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to heal and fight infections.
What do you need to do if you have type 2 diabetes?
Work closely with your doctor and diabetes health care team.
Take insulin or other medications your doctor prescribes to help your body respond to insulin more effectively.
Eat a healthy diet to help achieve a normal bodyweight. Doctors recommend a low-salt or low-fat diet.
Participate in physical activity regularly. Exercise helps increase the body’s response to insulin, and it helps the body to burn more calories, which can promote the loss of excess body fat. If you do take insulin, orally or with injections, and you do start an exercise program always have “sugar” like grapes, orange juice, even some candy, available. Your blood sugar will drop with exercise and that might bring your blood sugar level too low. Work closely with your doctor, I have seen many members come completely off the insulin or take a lot less insulin after they maintained a regular workout routine.
Get to, and maintain a normal body weight. Obesity and type 2 diabetes go “hand in hand”
Monitor your blood sugar levels often.
Contact Ester Marsh with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or emarsh@rowanymca.com.

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