Diabetes (Type 2)

What  you need to know about type 2 diabetes

If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have a lot of questions about your condition. One thing to know is there are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. The more common is type 2 diabetes. Here are answers to questions you may have about this condition.

Q: What is diabetes?

A: Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. When you eat, your body has a harder time changing the food into the energy you need. Diabetes is a life-long disease, but you can control it and live a better life with diabetes.

Q: What are the risk factors for developing diabetes:

A: Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Age (being over the age of 45)
  • A family history of diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels
  • Diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • Certain ethnic backgrounds

Illness, infection, surgery, and stress can also increase your blood sugar level. Sometimes diabetes develops, even if you are at a healthy weight and no one else in your family has it.

Q: What are the symptoms of diabetes and how do I know if I have it?

A: Symptoms include feeling very thirsty, urinating often, feeling tired all the time, blurred vision, having skin wounds or infections that will not heal, and losing weight. Some people with diabetes do not have any symptoms but have just as serious a condition as those who do. There is no such thing as a mild case of diabetes.

To find out if you have diabetes, a blood sugar (glucose) test is done. If you are fasting for eight hours, a result of 126 mg/dL or higher means you have diabetes. If you are not fasting, a result of 200 mg/dL or higher can indicate that you have diabetes. Your doctor may also order a Hemoglobin A1C blood test. A result of 6.5 percent or higher means you have diabetes.

Q: Why is diabetes a serious condition?

A: Some people become very ill with diabetes. They may have problems such as dehydration or infection. If diabetes is untreated for many months or years, the blood vessels and nerves in your body can also become damaged. This can lead to problems such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage, eye damage, and problems with circulation and feeling in the feet. It is important to keep blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels as close to normal as possible to help prevent complications. Also, regular checkups with your doctor are essential.

Q: What do I have to do to take care of my diabetes?

A: Focus on five key areas:

  • Get educated
    • Optum offers diabetes classes. These classes will teach you how to manage your diabetes by making healthy changes over time. This will make a big difference in how you feel.
  • Eat right
    • Eat three balanced meals daily, 4-5 hours apart.
    • Follow the healthy plate method for your meals: 1/2 plate vegetables, 1/4 plate lean protein and 1/4 plate carbohydrates.
    • Increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps to control blood sugars. Foods such as whole grains, beans, lentils, and vegetables are a great source of fiber.
    • Drink water, unsweetened coffee, or tea. Do not drink sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and juice.
    • For more information on healthy eating, ask your doctor or registered dietitian about a food plan.
  • Be active
    • Physical activity, such as walking, helps to lower your blood sugar.
  • Check your blood sugar.
  • Take your diabetes medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Get more help managing your type 2 diabetes

We offer special programs  to help patients manage chronic conditions. Your Optum team of doctors, nurses, care managers and educators will work with you to develop a personalized disease management plan. Our team will teach you to watch for symptoms, and give you strategies for dealing with your health challenges. We emphasize instruction and education. That way, when your symptoms appear, you can quickly contact us for treatment and support. And no matter where you need care—at home, in the hospital, at a skilled nursing facility—we make sure you get the right care in the right place at the right time.

Speak with a Optum doctor today.