What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 typically occurs in adulthood and is known as a ‘lifestyle disease’ because it is often triggered by being inactive, following a poor diet and carrying excess weight.

25 January 2016

Type 2 diabetes is typically defined by raised blood glucose levels (called hyperglycaemia) which, over time, can do major damage to the body’s vital organs, blood vessels and nerves. About 85 to 90 percent of the world’s diabetics have type 2 diabetes, yet many people who have this condition go undiagnosed. Blood insulin levels are normal or increased, compared to Type I diabetes in which there are low insulin levels.

Type 2 diabetes is often preceded by a condition known as ‘prediabetes’, which as it suggests, means that the sufferer may not have all of the symptoms of diabetes but does present abnormally high blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diagnosis

If you are over 35 and are at risk of type 2 diabetes (see risk factors below), you should be tested every year. A finger-prick test at a Clicks Pharmacy can quickly indicate the likelihood that you may have diabetes.

If this test indicates raised glucose levels in the blood, the nurse who has administered the test will advise you to contact your doctor for more extensive blood tests.

Look out for the following risk factors:

  • Excessive weight, specifically around the midriff area;
  • A family history of diabetes;
  • High cholesterol;
  • High blood pressure;
  • A high-risk group in South Africa: if you are of Indian descent you are at particular risk;
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed over 4kg at birth, or if you have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is the state in which you may show some but not all of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Known medically as intermediate hyperglycemia, this is a condition that experts believe will affect as many as 470 million by 2030.

People with pre-diabetes have elevated blood sugar levels but do not present with other symptoms of diabetes. As many as 5 to 10 percent of people with pre-diabetes becomes fully diabetic every year. Pre-diabetes is therefore considered to be a condition that is closely associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Are you at risk of pre-diabetes?

Evidence shows that those most at risk of pre-diabetes tend to be over 45 years old and are often overweight.

Lifestyle habits that may indicate that you are at risk include low activity levels, a diet high in processed foods and sugary drinks, and high stress.

Other risk factors include:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • High cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Women who have previously experienced gestational diabetes

If you have pre-diabetes, timely changes to your lifestyle and eating habits can reverse these symptoms.“For pre-diabetic individuals, lifestyle modification is the cornerstone of diabetes prevention, with evidence of a 40 to 70% relative-risk reduction,” advises a 2012 report published in The Lancet. Doctors may also prescribe drugs to assist pre-diabetic patients with lowering their blood sugar levels.

Read more about preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes here

For more info and assistance

  • Clicks Clinics will help you prevent, identify and manage diabetes with their wide range of screening tests and health assessments.To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clicks Clinics online
Read More: Diabetes Super Section