Type 2 Diabetes, Causes, Symptoms and Complication

Diabetes is a medical condition where a person’s blood sugar or blood glucose is too high. In order to better understand diabetes, you need to understand the how the glucose is processed in the body.

How insulin works:

Insulin is secreted by the pancreas then released into the bloodstream where it circulates and enables sugar to enter the body cells.

This in turn, lowers the level of blood sugars. As the level of blood sugar drops, so does the secretion of insulin.

The role of glucose:

Glucose is a source of energy to the body cells that make up the muscles among other tissues in the body. It is obtained from the liver and food. It is absorbed into the bloodstream where with the help of insulin, it enters the body cells.

When glucose levels are too low like when you do not eat for a while, the liver breaks down the stored glycogen into glucose to help maintain glucose level at a normal range.

There are two main types of diabetes namely:

1. Type 1 Diabetes

In this type of diabetes, the immune system which should fight viruses and bacteria attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas leaving the body with little or no insulin. Instead of sugar being transported to the body cells, it builds up in the blood stream.

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetic susceptibility.

2. Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes

Prediabetes leads to type 2 diabetes which is the more common type of diabetes. Here, the body cells become resistant to the action of insulin and the pancreas does not make enough insulin to overcome the resistance leading to the buildup of glucose in the blood stream.

Prediabetes means that the blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be referred to as diabetes.

Being overweight is one of the major cause of diabetes but not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight.

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but it mostly appears during adolescence or childhood.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is more common among people over 40 years but it can also develop at any age.

Usually, a combination of certain things cause type 2 diabetes which include:

· Genes

According to research, your risk to getting type 2 diabetes increases if your sibling or parent has it.

· Extra weight.

Being obese or overweight makes the body cells resistant to insulin especially if you carry most of the weight at the middle.

· High blood pressure

Having blood pressure that is above 140/90 millimeters of mercury increases your risk to type 2 diabetes.

· Abnormal triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

Low levels of good cholesterol increases your risk to type 2 diabetes. Triglycerides is another type of fat carried in the blood. Individuals with high levels of triglycerides are at higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

· Gestational diabetes

Your risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes increases after developing gestational diabetes when pregnant. Also, if you give birth to a baby weight more than 4kilograms (9 pounds), you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

· Polycystic ovary syndrome.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a common condition that is characterized by irregular periods, obesity and hair growth have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

· Race.

Though the reason for this is unclear but studies indicate that people of certain races; Hispanics, blacks, Asian-Americans, American Indians are at higher risk of developing diabetes.

· Age.

As you get older, your risk increases. This is because you tend to lose muscle and gain weight due to lack of exercise. However, type 2 diabetes is also increasing among young adult and adolescent children.

· Inactivity

The less active you are, the higher the risk of developing diabetes. This is because exercise uses up glucose and makes body cells more sensitive to insulin.


Unlike in type 1 diabetes whose symptoms come on quickly and are more severe, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes vary depending on how much sugar level in the blood is elevated. Some people may not experience any symptoms initially

Some of the symptoms to look out for include:

· Frequent urination.

· Increased thirst.

· Unexplained weight loss.

· Extreme hunger.

· Presence of ketones, a byproduct after the breakdown of fat and muscle when there not enough insulin, in the urine.

· Irritability.

· Fatigue.

· Slow healing sores.

· Blurred vision.

· Frequent infections such as vaginal infection, skin or gum infections.

Complications of type 2 diabetes:

Though the complications of type 2 diabetes develop slowly, they can be life-threatening and disabling. The longer you have diabetes, the more severe the complications will be. The common complications include:

· Cardiovascular disease

Diabetes increases the risk of certain cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, coronary artery disease with severe chest pain, atherosclerosis (narrowing arteries) and stroke. If you have type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to have stroke or heart disease.

· Neuropathy (Nerve damage)

Excess blood sugars damage the walls of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that nourish the nerves especially in the legs. This causes numbness, tingling, pain and a burning sensation that begins at the tip of the toes and fingers than spreads upwards gradually.

If not treated, it can lead to the loss of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage of the nerves that assist in digestion causes vomiting, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. To men, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.

· Nephropathy (kidney damage)

Kidneys contain glomeruli, tiny blood vessel clusters that filter the blood to remove waste. Type 2 diabetes damages this filtering system leading to an irreversible kidney disease or kidney failure. If this happens, you will need kidney transplant or dialysis.

· Retinopathy (eye damage)

Type 2 diabetes damages retina’s blood vessels leading to blurred vision or blindness. It also increase the risk of vision conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts.

· Foot damage

Diabetes damages the nerves in the feet as well as affects the flow of blood to the feet thereby increasing the risk to various foot complications. If left untreated, the blisters and cuts develop severe infections that heal poorly and can ultimately lead to leg, foot or toe amputation.

· Skin conditions

Type 2 diabetes leave you more susceptible to certain skin problems such as fungal and bacterial infections.

· Hearing impairment

People with diabetes are more likely to develop hearing problems.

· Alzheimer’s disease.

Type 2 diabetes increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The higher the blood sugar levels, the greater the risk of mental deterioration.