Friday 24 November 2017

Type II diabetes can have complications

By Dr Michelle Cooper

Dr Michelle Cooper. Photo Eye Focus
Dr Michelle Cooper. Photo Eye Focus

Type II diabetes develops mainly in people over 40 years of age; however, it is becoming more prevalent in children and young adults.

Worldwide, the number of people suffering with type II diabetes is on the rise.

Diabetes mellitus occurs when the level of glucose in the blood becomes higher than normal. There are two main types of diabetes - type I and type II.

Type II diabetes tends to develop over weeks or months. It occurs as:

- Not enough insulin is made for the body's needs, or

- The cells in the body do not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance, as the cells in your body become resistant to normal levels of insulin, or

- It can be caused due to a combination of both factors.

In type I diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin and symptoms develop quickly over days or weeks as the insulin levels in the blood falls dramatically. Type I diabetes usually develops in children and young adults and is treated with insulin injections and dietary adjustments.


The risk factors for developing type II diabetes are as follows:

- Having a family member with type II diabetes.

- Being overweight.

- Having a waist circumference of more than 80cm in women or more than 94cm in men.

- Having impaired glucose tolerance. This is when glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to have diabetes.

- Having impaired glucose tolerance when pregnant.


Common symptoms which patients may complain of include:

- Being thirsty often.

- Passing large amounts of urine.

- Feeling very tired.

- Unexplained weight loss.

- Some people also develop blurred vision, and frequent infections such as thrush.

A simple urinary test may detect glucose in the urine. To confirm the diagnosis, a fasting blood glucose test is required.


If blood glucose levels are higher than normal over a long period of time, they can gradually damage your blood vessels. This can cause the following problems:

- Atheroma formation, which causes narrowing of the arteries, leading to angina, heart attacks, stroke and poor circulation.

- Kidney damage.

- Eye problems.

- Nerve damage.

- Foot problems.

- Impotence.

The likelihood of developing complications from Type II Diabetes is reduced if other risk factors are dealt with by your GP i.e. high blood pressure.


The aims of treating patients with Type II Diabetes are as follows:

- To keep blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible.

- To reduce the risk of developing complications from Diabetes (as listed above).

- To reduce any associated risk factors in order to lower the overall risk of developing complications.

- To detect complications as soon as possible.


The blood test used to monitor blood glucose levels is called the HbA1c test. It should be performed every 3-6 months. It is a picture of one's blood glucose control over the preceding few weeks and helps to guide GP's in the management of their patients Diabetes.


- Eating a healthy diet low in fat, salt and sugar with a high intake of fibre and plenty of fruit and vegetables is important. This can be established by seeing a Dietician who can go through your diet with you and suggest a diet more appropriate and suitable for you going forward.

- Weight loss if overweight is of paramount importance with regular physical activity.

Medications may be used in conjunction with the above. They work by reducing blood glucose levels and different types of medications suit different individuals. It is common practice for a combination of medications to be required.

Further information can be obtained from the Diabetes Federation of Ireland's website;

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