Diabetes is one of the most concerning health issues impacting Americans today – and it’s becoming increasingly more common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million Americans have some form of diabetes, including around 25 percent of seniors ages 65 and older. When you think of diabetes, you likely think of type 2 diabetes, which can develop over time. This chronic condition affects the way your body metabolizes sugar, and it can lead to serious complications. While there is no cure for the condition, it is crucial to identify the symptoms of type 2 diabetes early to properly manage the disease.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
Type 2 diabetes develops when your body has a dysfunctional relationship with insulin. Insulin is a sugar-regulating hormone that comes from your pancreas, triggered in response to blood sugar levels. Diabetes causes complications when diabetics either become resistant to insulin or fail to produce enough insulin. There are several risk factors that may predict the condition, including genetics and environmental factors:
- Weight: Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Proper diet and exercise is crucial to stave off the condition, especially for adults approaching their golden years.
- Age: Your risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after you’ve reached age 45. There are no concrete statistics on why diabetes risk increases for older individuals; however, many doctors believe that the risk grows because people tend to exercise less, gain weight, and lose muscle mass as they age.
- Body Composition: Studies show that, if you store fat mainly in your abdomen, you have a greater risk of type 2 diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes rises for men with a waist circumference above 40 inches and for women with a waist circumference above 35 inches.
- Inactivity: As mentioned above, weight gain contributes to your diabetes risk. Not only does physical activity help control your weight, but also it makes your cells more sensitive to insulin, reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Prediabetes or Gestational Diabetes: Prediabetes is a condition in which patients show higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. This condition often progresses to type 2 diabetes if left untreated. Gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy, can also be a risk factor. If you developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you may have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Some patients have type 2 diabetes for years without knowing it. This is because the symptoms of type 2 diabetes tend to progress slowly. There are several symptoms to look out for:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Unintended weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Areas of unusually darkened skin, which can indicate insulin resistance
If you’ve only recently begun noticing these symptoms, you may not have type 2 diabetes – the chances are high that you may have prediabetes or a related condition. Still, these symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
Type 2 diabetes affects millions of seniors in the United States. If you notice any of the type 2 diabetes symptoms listed above, make sure to consult your doctor. While there is no cure for the condition, you can manage type 2 diabetes with a proper diet, exercise, and support from your healthcare team.
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