A Simple Explanation of Type 2 Diabetes

The Center for Disease Control estimates that about 29 million Americans live with diabetes mellitus. This disorder manifests when there is a defect in the mechanism that regulates the level of blood glucose in the body. A glaring majority of the people do not have the basic understanding of diabetes which would prove useful especially in Type 2 diabetes. This is because it is the preventable form of diabetes. To understand Type 2 diabetes, it’s imperative to have a rough ideal of how the body regulates glucose in addition to a brief description of Type 1 diabetes.

When an individual ingests a meal containing carbohydrates, the body breaks it down into glucose. This serves as the major source of energy for the bodily functions. Under normal circumstances any excess of this glucose triggers the release of a hormone called insulin from the pancreas. This hormone sets in motion several mechanisms which are aimed at converting this excess glucose to its various storage forms.

Several hitches in this wonderful mechanism can be anticipated. The pancreas may fail to produce the insulin or produce inadequate amounts of the same. Another problem could be failure of the insulin to bind to its receptors. In such a case the pancreas functions perfectly but the target tissues have become resistant to this hormone. It is these two defects in the glucose regulation pathway that give rise to the two distinct types of diabetes mellitus. If it’s the former then that qualifies as Type 1 diabetes mellitus while the latter is classified as Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The manifestation is usually in people aged less than thirty years but at times can do so after this age. Patients usually present with polyuria (passing large volumes of dilute urine), polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyphagia (excessive appetite) and unexplained weight loss. The development of this disease is attributed to the destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas by the body’s own immune system. This is why incidence of this disease is increased in individuals who have autoimmune diseases.

Having looked at the basic mechanism of glucose regulation and a brief description of Type1 diabetes, we can now delve into the world of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is also described as adult onset diabetes (affecting individuals older than 40 ) or insulin independent diabetes mellitus. This disease comes about when there is insulin resistance in the body. It can however result from the combination of insulin resistance, excessive glucagon (the hormone that counters the effect of insulin) production and inadequate insulin production (usually seen in the advanced stages of the disease).

The classic symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are similar to those of the insulin dependent type. These are polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia and weight loss. In addition patients may present with blurred vision and yeast infections. A complex interaction of environmental factors and genetic susceptibility is a prerequisite in the development of this disease. About 90% of the individuals who develop Type 2 diabetes are obese. Other factors linked to its development are; environmental pollutants, advanced age (usually greater than 45), positive family history, hypertension, history of gestational diabetes among other factors.

It’s of importance to note that Type 2 diabetes is preventable to some extent. This is by virtue of its development being an interaction of genetic factors and modifiable risk factors. The likes of obesity are factors that can be controlled with exercise and diet modifications.


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