What is type 2 diabetes mellitus?
This glucose meter certainly shows high blood sugar, and it’s about half what I saw on my initial doctor visit. I hope your sugar levels were lower than mine when you were diagnosed, but if not – that’s ok. Getting them back under control is what counts now.
High blood sugar, or more specifically, the inability of your body or mine to keep it where it needs to be on its own is pretty much the definition of diabetes. The good news with type 2 diabetes is that diet and exercise alone may work wonders for you. The bad news is that it will probably need controlled from now on.
As a thumbnail sketch, diabetes comes in several forms and except for diabetes insipidus, all are the result of your body not being able to properly keep your blood sugar in balance. On the glucose meter above, that means keeping the reading below about 100 before meals.
For a more detailed look, please take a minute to review the “what is diabetes” page. It will tell you what the disease is and why it is important to you. (The page opens in a new window so you won’t loose your place). I recommend reading that first, then come back here to focus in on type 2.
How do you know if you have type 2 diabetes?
Type II diabetes, diabetes 2 and type 2 diabetes mellitus all refer to the same disease. It is both the most common and fortunately for some, the easiest to combat. If you have not already been told by the doctor, here are some symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- – Excessive Thirst
- – Excessive Urination
- – Increased, possibly even an addictive-type intake of fluids
- – Fatigue
- – Frequent night-time visits to the bathroom
- – Increasing blood pressure
- – Blurred vision
- – Unexplained weight loss
- – Did I say tired?
At some point, be it from a regular checkup or physical with your physician, or through fatigue (like with me) that drives you to make an appointment – somewhere you will find out that you have high blood sugar. How does that make it type 2? It doesn’t. What makes it type 2 is whether your pancreas still makes insulin or not. That you will find out from your doctor. It is not for self-diagnosis, but chances are pretty good that if you or your doctor noticed the symptoms coming on over time, it is probably type 2. Given that diabetes was not on my, and probably not on your list of life choices, that it is type 2 is a blessing in disguise. Why? …
Options you have with type 2 diabetes
If the pancreas stopped making insulin altogether, you would have type 1 diabetes. At least until a cure is found, insulin injections are about the only option. However, with type 2 diabetes, especially if blood sugar increase is borderline or noticed before many of the above symptoms come about, then there are several things that may help.
- – Go on a diet (I didn’t like it either)
- – Exercise to lose weight
- – Reduce carbohydrate intake
- – Exercise to burn blood sugar
- – Eat small amounts 3 – 4 times daily
- – Exercise to get energy back
- – Watch what you snack on
- – Exercise to simply feel better
- – Watch what you eat
- – Then monitor blood sugar level as feedback
- – And take oral diabetic drugs (there are several types)
- – Did I say eat right?
- – Insulin as a last resort
You may think the above is a bit tongue-and-cheek, but I assure you, it is not. Your doctor will prescribe medication based on the severity of your symptoms, and you should certainly take it. But you may have more control over your blood sugar than you realize.
I was not happy when the doc put me on a 1500 calorie diet. Unless you’ve also had that pleasure, go ahead and weigh a 1 oz piece of chicken to see just how much meat you get for supper! Complaining aside, after losing about 30 pounds, my blood pressure came back down to normal and my blood sugar stayed under 100. That is worth it. Following my doctor’s advice, it only took about 6 months to get completely off oral medications. And it stayed that way for many, many months – until I realized I could eat a candy bar (snickers were my favorite) without too much effect. Trust me on this – the guard must stay up.
So how serious is it – really?
I am trying to remove some of the fear for you, but please don’t take the previous paragraph too light hearted. Don’t panic just because you were diagnosed with diabetes, but do understand it will be with you for life, at least until science comes up with an alternative for us. With type 2 diabetes, you at least have a chance to actively and personally control much of your fate. The more you are involved in you, the better.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, a type 2 diagnosis, like for me, may mean you have the ability of reversing diabetes symptoms. Perhaps you will even be controlling diabetes without medication at some point in the near future. I hope that is the case, but please do not underestimate the seriousness of the disease. Again, no panics yet … but nothing good comes from ignoring it. Diabetes is a progressive condition that won’t get better on its own. Without proper care, blindness, low circulation, loss of feeling in extremities, slow healing of wounds or infections, and about anything other people get can be worse in a diabetic.
Again, now is not the time to panic, but it is the time to take your health seriously. You can’t do much about heredity, but you can lose those extra pounds. It took me 30, but as little as 10 to 20 pounds could stabilize your blood sugar levels. Try it and see. Be on a mission. Eat to stay healthy. Don’t just take time, make time to exercise. Don’t like the gym – take a walk. Raining? Go to the mall. You get the idea. Be an active part of controlling diabetes, rather than letting it get away with controlling you. If you depend on the doctor to do it for you, the meds only get stronger and the symptoms tougher to manage – or at least that’s my belief.
Stay upbeat. Type 2 diabetes is nothing to joke about, but it does not have to be the end of all things happy. Sit. Take a breath. Then think how great it will be to fit in the clothes. You know, the ones way in the back of the closet for when a couple pounds come off. Well, now’s the time.
Follow the advice of your doctor for sure, but if you’re one of the lucky ones that can reverse the effects of diabetes with diet and exercise alone, then that’s where we need to go next. If your symptoms are severe enough, or your doctor simply believes diabetic medications need to be a part of daily life from now on, a healthy diet and some good exercise will still help keep you stronger, happier and I believe healthier. It is still where we need to go next.
And so we shall. Links to diabetic diet and exercise pages will follow soon. Until then, see you at the gym!