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Providers Weigh In: Don’t Let Type 2 Diabetes Control Your Life

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Yuval, Eisenberg

Yuval Eisenberg, MD
Endocrinologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UI Health

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition that affects the way the body handles glucose, a form of sugar. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes.

Your body relies on sugar (mostly glucose) for immediate energy use and also as storage (mostly as fat).  Normally a critical hormone, insulin, regulates the movement of glucose into body cells, but as you develop Type 2 diabetes, your body stops responding properly to insulin’s actions (also called insulin resistance). As a result, blood sugars do not get into the cells and eventually rise which causes most of the damage related to diabetes.

Diabetes, when left uncontrolled can cause long-term health issues and may even lead to death. “People with type 2 diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing heart diseases and strokes. Type 2 diabetes can also damage the eyes, nerves and kidneys. Most of these complications can be prevented by keeping the blood sugar under control. Lifestyle changes and regular preventive care visits to a doctor can help keep minor complications from becoming more serious ones,” says Dr. Yuval Eisenberg, Endocrinologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UI Health.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops slowly over time. Obesity or being overweight strongly contributes to its development. Thin people can also get type 2 diabetes, however, this is more common in the elderly. Smoking, poor diet (low-fiber, high-fat, high carbohydrate), sedentary lifestyle, and family history of type 2 diabetes are the most common risk factors.

The disease often shows no symptoms at first. People may have it for many years and not know it. Increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue, and impaired vision are some early symptoms that people experience. Type 2 diabetes also affects the body’s ability to resist and heal infections.

Treatment depends on the person’s overall health condition, lifestyle and their individual goals. Early on, lifestyle changes alone (healthy diet and exercise) may control high blood sugars and prevent complications. However, some people will require pill medications which are often very effective.  If not successful, patients may require insulin injections. Most patients are also asked to monitor their blood sugars regularly at home.

Everyone with diabetes should receive proper education about best managing their health. Talk to an expert to learn about how to take control and live well with the disease.