What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes happens when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (this is called insulin resistance). It is estimated that 11 million people in Canada are living with diabetes or prediabetes.
Should I be tested for type 2 diabetes?
People who are older than 40 years of age should be tested for type 2 diabetes every three years. People who have one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently.
How is type 2 diabetes managed?
The cornerstones of type 2 diabetes management are:
- Weight loss
- Healthy eating and meal planning
Excess weight is associated with higher blood glucose levels and complications, so it’s important for people with diabetes who are overweight to try and lose weight. The good news is that studies have shown that losing even a little weight – between 5% and 10% of initial body weight – can improve diabetes control and reduce the risk of diabetes complications.
Healthy eating and meal planning
Preparing and eating healthy meals is important in helping to control your blood glucose levels. A variety of healthy foods are needed for a balanced diet. This includes lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, and a moderate amount of whole grains such as bread, rice, pasta and cereal. It is a good idea to meet with a registered dietitian who can help you with a meal plan.
Exercising regularly not only helps with weight control – as many people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight – it also helps regulate insulin levels. Resistance exercise is also an important part of your regular physical activity plan.
Oral and injectable medications
When lifestyle modifications aren’t successful at keeping blood glucose levels in their target ranges for people with type 2 diabetes, medications may be prescribed. There are a number of drugs that are used to help people manage their condition.
Sometimes, insulin is prescribed, when blood glucose levels remain high or when they are very high at the time of diagnosis.
Checking blood glucose levels
It is important to know your blood glucose levels, to make sure that they are at the targets that your healthcare team has prescribed. Blood glucose testing is done by taking a finger prick blood sample, using a blood glucose meter at home. Your healthcare team will also check your levels, so it is important to make sure you keep regular appointments.
What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?
Complications of diabetes often develop gradually, and usually happen because blood glucose levels remain too high. The longer you have diabetes — and the less controlled your blood glucose levels – the higher the risk of complications. Complications of diabetes include heart disease, eye disease, kidney disease and nerve problems.
Emotional health and well-being
Many people find that managing diabetes can seem overwhelming at times. The stresses and strains of paying attention to nutrition, physical activity, medication management and blood glucose levels can sometimes take a toll on people’s emotional well-being.