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Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body stores and metabolizes sugar. People who have type 2 diabetes have too little of the hormone that controls sugar in the cells. Alternatively, the body may reject or ignore the hormones it receives. Type 2 diabetes is very common in adults and is becoming a problem in children due to poor nutritional habits. It is often associated with obesity. When left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious medical issues like heart problems and kidney damage. Medications and lifestyle changes can prevent and treat type 2 diabetes.

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Causes

The pancreas, a small organ near the stomach, produces and releases hormones that help sugars enter the cells and reduces the amount of sugar in the blood. In patients with type 2 diabetes, this process fails, and sugar is left to build up in the blood. The body is unable to produce enough hormone to regulate blood sugar. If not treated, type 2 diabetes eventually damages organs and other body systems.

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Risk Factors

The main risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is an unhealthy weight. Excess fatty tissue makes absorbing the blood sugar hormone properly more difficult. People who tend to store fat easily in the stomach area are at higher risk of diabetes. Other risk factors include inactivity, age, ethnicity, and family history. People who have close-to-diabetic blood sugar levels are diagnosed with pre-diabetes. This preliminary condition can be reversed with changes in diet and exercise.

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Symptoms

There are several symptoms of diabetes, but they are not always crystal clear, especially in the beginning. Typical symptoms include a constant feeling of being thirsty, frequent urination, and increased hunger. Weight loss is also a symptom, oddly enough. Feeling tired and irritable is also common. Diabetes also hinders the body's ability to fight infection, so sores tend to heal more slowly.

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Symptoms: Darkened Skin

Another strange symptom associated with type 2 diabetes is the darkening of the skin in certain areas. This condition is known as acanthosis nigricans. It causes dark, almost black, skin to form in areas such as the armpit and neck. This is physical evidence of hormone resistance in the body.

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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops when a woman is pregnant. During pregnancy, hormones run rampant. The hormones can cause blood sugar to rise and bring on a temporary version of type 2 diabetes. After delivery, the mother's levels usually return to normal, and the condition disappears. Having gestational diabetes does make women more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

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Diagnosis

There are several tests a doctor can order to confirm type 2 diabetes. The most common test is the A1C Test. It can show the average blood sugar level over the previous few months. The test is performed twice for accuracy and can confirm prediabetes, diabetes, or normal result. Pregnant women or those with some other conditions aren't candidates for this test but have other options. Random blood tests, fasting blood tests, and oral testing are suitable alternatives.

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Treatment

Once a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is confirmed, treatment may begin. Diet changes are usually one of the first recommendations. Reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake is the first step. Adding daily exercise is another way to reduce blood sugar. Monitoring blood sugar can ensure treatments are working. Doctors may also recommend medications such as hormone injections.

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Monitoring Blood Sugars

A glucose meter helps people with type 2 diabetes ensure their blood sugar levels are improving and treatment is working. Blood sugar can be checked two to three times a day, usually a prescribed length of time following meals. The user places a small amount of blood into a digital monitor, and the machine quickly calculates blood sugar levels. Doctors use these results to determine whether to alter or continue certain treatments.

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Medications

A few medications have proven very effective in lowering blood sugar levels. Some can improve the way the body uses hormones, and reduce glucose in the liver. Depending on tolerance and the severity of blood sugar levels, doctors will work through a unique care regimen. Some people require synthetic injections multiple times a day.

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Healthy Changes

Some people with type 2 diabetes do not require any medication to treat the illness. If blood sugar levels are moderate, diet changes and exercise may be enough. Reducing high-sugar foods and drinks, especially soda, is key. Adding thirty minutes of exercise each day can be as powerful as medications because blood sugar levels come down naturally during physical activity. Doctors also recommend quitting smoking and eating more fruits and vegetables.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.