Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes: Everything You Need To Know

Introduction

Diabetes mellitus or diabetes in general is a health condition characterized by the body’s inability to metabolize sugar efficiently. Diabetes can be broadly categorized as Type 1 and Type 2. While type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes is a milder, yet dangerous disease caused due to poor lifestyle habits. Type 2 Diabetes is called Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus or Adult Onset diabetes. However, these names are considered obsolete and inaccurate. Earlier, type 2 diabetes was believed to be an adults’ disease however, an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with this disease every year. 

For a healthy human, the pancreas produce insulin in relation to the amount of carbohydrates consumed. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas are weakened and produce less insulin. Additionally, the body becomes resistant to insulin in type 2 diabetes. Under normal circumstances, the body would use insulin to synthesize the sugars and store them in the cells as energy for bodily functions. This does not happen in type 2 diabetes and leads to increased blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia. People who are obese (more than 50% of their ideal body weight) are at a higher risk of the disease.

Following are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Blurred Vision
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Drop in body weight
  • Recurring yeast infections
  • Delayed healing of wounds and injuries

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Being Overweight – It is no new discovery that obesity leads to a number of problems like cardiac issues, arthritis, and high blood pressure among others. Type 2 diabetes is no exception. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. Higher weight can also make you a victim of accompanying conditions like hypertension, which will only worsen the situation for you if you are a type 2 diabetic.
  • Unhealthy and Untimely Eating Habits – It is said that ‘you are what you eat.’ This saying cannot be truer in case of lifestyle problems, especially the ones linked with poor food choices. Eating food that is high in cholesterol and sodium invites nothing but heart diseases. Such foods also negatively impact the functioning of the liver and the pancreas. Foods high in sugar-like carbonated drinks and sweets with too much sugar interferes with the natural insulin secretion of the pancreas, as well as increases the blood sugar levels significantly. All these factors could subsequently lead to reduced pancreas function and invite type 2 diabetes.
  • Genes – A large part of our immunity, hormone secretion, and overall health depend upon our genes. It is common knowledge that we inherit our genes from our parents. Scientists have discovered various traces in the human genetic makeup that affect an individual body’s response towards insulin. If our gene fragments are flawed, i.e. they do not respond correctly to insulin, then one could contract type 2 diabetes.
  • Low Blood Sugar – It is necessary to maintain a balance of all nutrients in the body. Surplus or deficiency of anything in the human body invites health complications. Similarly, low blood sugar can also be a reason for type 2 diabetes. When a person has a very low blood sugar level, their liver makes up for the deficiency by producing glucose. Consequently, when a person eats something relevant to the improvement of their blood sugar levels, the bloodstreams sugar concentration 3start resurfacing to normal levels rapidly. In this case, the sugar from the food consumed and the glucose secreted by the liver results in high blood sugar levels, which leads to reduced insulin sensitivity.
  • Poor cell-to-cell communication – Poor internal cell communication has a negative impact on the functioning of any group, organization, or system and the human body is no exception to this. Inefficient communication between the cells disturbs the regular functions of the body. When the cells related to insulin production and absorption have these ‘glitches’ in communicating with each other, they lead to a series of disturbances in the body which then lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • Metabolic Syndrome – It has been a general observation that people who have high resistance to insulin also have related medical issues like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and lack of triglycerides. Such people also tend to carry excess visceral fat around their waist.

How to diagnose type 2 diabetes?

  • A blood sugar test with sugar levels more than or indicative of 200 mg/DL is indicative of type 2 diabetes.
  • Fasting blood sugar levels are tested on an empty stomach and bladder. If these levels are above 126 mg/DL, then it confirms diabetes. Patients having blood sugar levels lower than this but above 70 mg/DL are considered to be prediabetic and those below 70 mg/DL are cleared as normal.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test is used for pregnant women. The doctor gives the patients a high sugar concentration liquid after which periodic tests are conducted to analyze the breakdown and synthesis of insulin in the woman’s body.

How to treat type 2 diabetes?

Like any other illness, type 2 diabetes can also be treated either by natural remedies or drugs that inevitably have their own side effects. Natural remedies would translate to improving one’s lifestyle by ways such as reducing weight, self-care, avoiding junk food and carbonated drinks, and adopting a balanced diet. On the other hand, a person would be prescribed drugs for insulin sensitivity, blood thinning, or anti-diabetes medications.

  • Metformin – It is generally the first type of medication prescribed in case of type 2 diabetes. The drug works by reducing the amount of glucose secreted by the liver. This lowers the overall blood sugar levels of the body and increases insulin sensitivity. The body then effectively utilizes the current amount of insulin produced by the pancreas.
  • Sulfonylureas – This category of drugs helps in the secretion of more insulin. However, they come with side effects like weight gain and low blood sugar levels.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors – Drugs under this class divert the flow of sugar from the heart to the kidneys and then to the urinary tract. Also, excess sugar is eliminated from the system in the form of urine. Canagliflozin is one such drug under this class.

Conclusion

Diabetes is a disease that is passed down from one generation to another. This increases the odds of someone being a patient of type 2 diabetes. It is therefore advisable to have regular tests and check-ups from a young age and take necessary precautions before growing older. Diabetes patients bear witness to the fact that lifestyle habits are very important in the long run.