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About Type 2 Diabetes

A growing epidemic

According to the CDC, 25.8 million people have diabetes, of which 18.8 million have been formally diagnosed. 7 million may not be aware that they have it, and an estimated 79 million Americans age 20 and older may be at a greatly increased risk of becoming diabetic.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of this growing epidemic. It was once found primarily in adults, but is now also being diagnosed in ever-growing numbers in younger generations. This form of diabetes is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. Normally, sugar and starches break down into glucose, which the body converts into energy with the help of insulin. In type 2 diabetics, the pancreas still produces insulin, but not enough to utilize the glucose. When the glucose builds up in the bloodstream, it can lead to complications .

Diabetes is the nation's leading cause of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. It can lead to blood vessel disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), foot damage, skin and mouth conditions, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, and hearing problems.

Some ethnic groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and treated. A carefully balanced diet with balanced portions of food types as directed by a health professional can be incredibly beneficial. Increasing physical activity is also a great way to control the symptoms of diabetes; your physician can help you select appropriate activities and reasonable goals. Finally, monitoring blood sugar levels is vital to controlling and understanding symptoms. If type 2 diabetes cannot be controlled solely by diet and exercise, then oral medication and insulin may be a necessary addition.

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