Everything you need to know about type 2 diabetes

Dr Nighat separates fact from fiction when it comes to type 2 diabetes. She details the symptoms we should be looking for, explains what treatments are available, and tells us why people from the black community are more than three times as likely to develop the condition.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. Figures show that there are 3.8 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK, and 90% of those have type 2. Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising it.

Dr Nighat says: The symptoms are important to know. It’s also good to note that type 2 diabetes isn’t always in overweight people. You can start drastically losing weight due to peeing more often, as you’re peeing out sugar.

Symptoms include

  • Excessive thirst

  • Needing to urinate a lot

  • Severe tiredness

  • Abdominal pain

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a problem with a chemical in the body called insulin. However there are a number of other factors at play. They include:

  • Being overweight and inactive

  • Stress, lack of sleep and even loneliness can contribute

  • Genetics. The genes you inherit from your parents may make you susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

What having type 2 diabetes can mean

Dr Nighat says: Type 2 is a potentially multi-organ failure complication, it affects every organ and blood vessel. It means you’re more prone to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. The second biggest reason as to why people are on the kidney transplant list is because of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can also increase your risk of:

  • Getting serious problems with your eyes

  • Nerve problems

  • Blurry vision

  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds

How can you get diagnosed?

Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed following blood or urine tests for something else. However, you should see a GP straight away if you have any symptoms of diabetes. To find out if you have type 2 diabetes, you usually have to go through the following steps:

1. See a GP about your symptoms

2. The GP will check your urine and arrange a blood test to check your blood sugar levels. It usually takes about 1 to 2 days for the results to come back

3. If you have diabetes, the GP will explain the test results and what will happen next

Ways to help type 2 diabetes

The main treatment is to try and change your lifestyle including diet and exercise. However there are other ways as well

Dr Nighat says: Type 2 diabetes can be reversible. Diet and exercise are your holy grail, if you can turn that around then it will be life changing. Then depending on what’s best for you, you could get prescribed medication to control your sugar levels, and then taking insulin would be the last resort. Go to your GP if you think you have symptoms. Nowadays most practices have a diabetes specialist who you will then be referred to, to support you should you have diabetes.