It is estimated that there are almost a million people living with type 2 diabetes in the UK who haven’t been diagnosed yet, according to latest figures released by Diabetes UK. This is not due to oversight but in large part to the subtlety of symptoms. People can live with diabetes for years without knowing it because the warning signs are either too mild to notice or nonexistent.
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To understand how symptoms may eventually appear, you must understand how type 2 diabetes develops and the harmful mechanisms that underpin it.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin.
Insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar, the main sugar found in your blood.
Exactly why this happens is unknown, although genetics and environmental factors, such as being overweight and inactive, seem to be contributing factors, explains Mayo Clinic.
With the pancreas partly disabled, blood sugar levels continue to rise in the body.
In the early stages, this does not produce any noticeable effects – hence the lack of symptoms – but, over time, high blood sugar levels inflict damage on the body.
This internal damage causes the body to undergo discernible changes.
When high blood sugar levels attack the nerves, you may experience a wave of symptoms.
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According to Diabetes.co.uk, these may be minor at first, and therefore may remain unnoticed as the condition develops gradually.
“However, in some types of diabetic neuropathy, the onset of the pain will be sudden and severe,” notes the health body.
According to the health site, diarrhoea, constipation and urinary problems may signal nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels.
How to treat symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes
Bringing blood sugar levels under control is the effective way to treat symptoms.
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A healthy diet and keeping active will help you manage your blood sugar level.
What to eat and avoid
There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
According to the NHS, you should:
- Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta
- Keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals
“If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week,” notes the health site.
How much exercise you need to do
According to the NHS, you should aim for two and a half hours of activity a week.
You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath.
This could be:
- Fast walking
- Climbing stairs
- Doing more strenuous housework or gardening
Exercise also aids weight loss, which is key to stabilising blood sugar levels.
The NHS explains: “Losing weight (if you’re overweight) will make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level, and can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol.”
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