What is Type 2 Diabetes?

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1 Type 2 Diabetes What is Type 2 Diabetes? Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood. Our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin works to regulate our blood glucose levels. Type 2 Diabetes is traditionally thought of as an older age onset disease but it is becoming increasingly more common in younger age groups. Its onset is often associated with being overweight, inactive and stressed. Because of its gradual onset, some people may have this type of Diabetes for years without knowing it. There is also a strongly family history link of diabetes If someone has Type 2 Diabetes they: May not be making a sufficient amount of insulin anymore OR May make plenty of insulin but something else is preventing it from doing its job effectively - this is called "insulin resistance". Sometimes it is a combination of both of these factors that causes diabetes i.e. not making as much insulin any more as well as being insulin resistant. One of the most common causes of insulin resistance is being overweight. Fat resists the action of insulin. This means that the insulin can t let the glucose into the cells. The glucose then builds up in the bloodstream which results in high blood glucose levels.

2 Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes The treatment of Type 2 Diabetes is aimed at controlling the blood glucose level so that it is in or near the normal range. This is managed in three ways: 1. Healthy Eating for Diabetes Healthy eating for Diabetes is no different to healthy eating for everyone. The major nutrients which all people need for good health are; carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. These can be obtained from eating a variety of foods. To help control your diabetes, your meals should: regularly contain slowly digested and absorbed carbohydrate foods e.g. wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables and fruits be high in fibre be low in fat - especially saturated fat be low in sugar be low in alcohol (see the Healthy Food Pyramid attached) Some people with Type 2 Diabetes need to lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight may improve insulin action and reduce the need for medications. Speak to your doctor or Diabetes Educator to see if you are in the healthy weight range. 2. Physical Activity Regular daily physical activity helps to: Use up glucose which decreases the amount of insulin needed. Improve circulation Control weight Relieve stress and tension

3 3. Medication If blood glucose levels cannot be controlled by diet and physical activity alone, medications may be required. There are several classes of tablets these can increase a Persons sensitive to insulin, stimulate the pancreas to increase the secretion of Insulin, help control the blood glucose levels by slowing the breakdown of starches and certain sugars. Speak to your doctor or diabetes educator to find out which type of tablet you are taking. When is insulin required? Diabetes is a progressive disease. Good management will definitely help to slow its progression, however after many years of diabetes the production of insulin from the pancreas will slow. Tablets may no longer be enough and insulin may need to be added. Sometimes during illness or periods of hospitalisation, insulin injections are temporarily required. This is because illness, infections or stress can cause the blood glucose level to rise and increase the body's insulin requirements.

4 Why is it important to keep blood glucose levels near normal? Good control of blood glucose helps to: make you feel well and healthy promote the healing of wounds and infections reduce the risk of complications from diabetes maintain normal weight Uncontrolled high blood glucose levels: encourage persistent infections (e.g. "thrush") increase the risk of damage to nerves and blood vessels may cause symptoms of high blood glucose may cause unstable weight (e.g. gain or loss) may cause blurred vision (this is a transient effect) Blood Glucose Monitoring Blood can be tested at home by pricking the finger and testing the drop of blood, and read by a blood glucose meter. In this way the person with diabetes can keep a check on their own blood glucose levels, which is much more accurate than testing urine. Self blood glucose monitoring at home is recommended, to help you to control your diabetes. Range to aim for: Diabetes controlled by healthy eating and physical activity: mmol/l Diabetes controlled by healthy eating, physical activity and medications (tablets and/or insulin) Fasting (i.e. before breakfast) 4-10 mmol/l 4 6 mmol/l These levels are only a guide. See your doctor or diabetes educator to discuss what range is appropriate for you.

5 The following illustration: 'The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, Commonwealth Copyright 1998 is reproduced with permission of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2004'.

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