Type 2 Diabetes

What is type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes occurs most commonly in people over age forty who are overweight and may have high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol. Type 2 diabetics have few or no ketones in their urine at diagnosis. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, but the insulin does not work efficiently. The cells send a signal back to the pancreas, which in turn senses a too-high blood glucose level. The pancreas then manufactures more and more insulin in an effort to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. Over the years, the pancreas may exhaust itself and stop producing insulin, in which case you would have to take insulin injections.

Some people believe that type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1 and because type 2 may not require taking insulin. For this reason, they may treat it lightly, ignore dietary suggestions, and believe that their illness is not serious. This isn’t true and type 2 diabetes must be taken seriously.

Obese people carry an unusually high risk of type 2 diabetes. The risk for type 2 diabetes for both sexes increases with age. As the body ages, its ability to efficiently use insulin begins to deteriorate. Older people who are overweight and who live a sedentary lifestyle are especially prone to diabetes, and they are more likely than younger type 2 diabetics to require medication.

Some diabetics have no symptoms at all and the disease is discovered as a result of a routine blood test. Most times, however, symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy, irritability, blurred vision, frequent infections, numbness or tingling in the feet and, in women, unexplained vaginal yeast infections, do present themselves.

The good news

You can live a long and healthy life by keeping your blood glucose (sugar) levels in the target range set by you and your health-care provider. You can do this by:

  • Eating healthy meals and snacks
  • Enjoying regular physical activity
  • Monitoring your blood glucose (sugar) using a home blood glucose meter
  • Aiming for a healthy body weight
  • Taking diabetes medications including insulin and other medications, if prescribed by your doctor
  • Managing stress effectively
  • Discuss with your health-care provider how often you should measure your blood glucose (sugar) level.

The most important thing to remember is that tablets are used only as an addition to diet and exercise, never in place of them. Diet and exercise remain the mainstay of treatment. Controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure are also important components of treatment.

Who can help you?

Your health-care team is there to help you. Depending on your needs and the resources available in your community, your team may include a family doctor, diabetes educator (nurse and/or dietitian), endocrinologist, pharmacist, social worker, exercise physiologist, psychologist, foot care specialist, eye care specialist. They can answer your questions about how to manage diabetes and work with you to adjust your food plan, activity and medications. You can also get in touch with the Diabetics Association of Zimbabwe team for more information and help. Remember, you are the most important member of your health-care team.

Get the support you need

A positive and realistic attitude towards your diabetes can help you manage it. Talk to others who have diabetes. Ask your local Diabetics Association of Zimbabwe branch about joining a support group or taking part in an information session.