Type 2 diabetes is a serious, lifelong, incurable illness. In many cases, however, it is preventable. Learn what increases your chances of getting diabetes below.
What Is Diabetes?
People with diabetes have an abnormal response to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Ordinarily, when your body needs energy and you haven’t eaten in a while, your liver releases glucose into the bloodstream to provide energy to your body’s cells. Your pancreas, a gland located below and behind the stomach, secretes the hormone insulin to help cells absorb glucose, cleaning it out of the bloodstream and returning glucose to normal levels.
In people with diabetes, something has gone wrong with the body’s reaction to insulin. Cells begin to resist insulin’s ability to absorb glucose. The pancreas reacts by pumping more insulin into the system, but it still can’t produce enough to get the cells to absorb glucose at the rate needed to reduce the overall level in the bloodstream. The person therefore ends up with type 2 diabetes. This disease puts you at risk of nerve and organ damage, leading to amputations, blindness, or kidney failure in severe cases.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
You can’t change certain factors, such as your family history, your race, your age, and whether you developed gestational diabetes when pregnant. Fortunately, there are things you can do to decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes even you have risk factors over which you have no control. Factors that increase your risk of developing diabetes include:
Obesity: Being overweight is a prime risk factor. The excess weight stresses your body’s cells and contributes to insulin resistance. Obesity also contributes to high blood pressure, another diabetes risk factor.
Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle is one in which the body has little opportunity or need to use blood sugar for energy. Getting more exercise encourages your cells to respond to insulin and use more glucose as energy.
Body shape: Bodies that store fat primarily in the belly rather than in the hips and thighs are more prone to developing diabetes.
Too little “good” cholesterol and too many triglycerides: Cholesterol and triglycerides are types of fat in the bloodstream. HDLs, or high-density lipids, are the “good” cholesterols. Triglycerides are another type of fat that can cause hardening of the arteries or buildup along the artery walls, which heightens the risk of strokes, heart disease, and heart attacks.
Symptoms of diabetes including extreme thirst, sores that don’t heal quickly, irritability, fatigue, frequent urination or infections, or extreme or unexplained weight loss. The only way to know if you’re developing or have developed diabetes is with a blood test. If your results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend that you see an endocrinologist in diabetes. These specialists are experts in hormonal disorders. An endocrinologist in Manhattan, New York, Dr. Philip Rabito can help with weight control and medical interventions to help you reduce your risk of getting diabetes.