What is Type 2 Diabetes?

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Written by

Anna Roell
9 December, 2023

Medically checked article All HOMED-IQ content is reviewed by medical specialists

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the cells in your body do not respond well to the hormone insulin, also known as insulin resistance. Insulin regulates your blood sugar by making sure body cells get enough sugar from your blood. This is necessary when you eat or drink carbohydrates, such as bread, jam, or juice. If your body does not respond well to insulin, too much sugar remains in your blood. Your body respond to this by first making extra insulin, but this decreases over time. Type 2 diabetes can cause unpleasant symptoms and cause serious damage to your body in the long term if left untreated.

Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but in recent decades more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it. Since type 2 diabetes causes little to no symptoms in the early stages, many people have type 2 diabetes without realizing it. If type 2 diabetes goes untreated for a long time it can lead to serious health problems. If you suffer from vague symptoms that could match the description of type 2 diabetes, it is important to get a blood test. Checking your blood sugar levels can be performed at a doctor’s office or using Homed-IQ’s home Blood Sugar Test for HbA1c, a marker of diabetes.

What are the causes of type 2 diabetes?

There is no single specific cause of type 2 diabetes, and for many people it is believed to be a combination of factors. Certain factors that increase risk of type 2 diabetes are:

  • Heredity (family history)
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Old age
  • Being overweight/having too much belly fat
  • Certain medications

Type 2 diabetes is often caused by a combination of heredity and an unhealthy lifestyle. People who have a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes but who live very healthy lives usually do not get the disease. Conversely, it is also quite possible that people who lead an unhealthy life and who do not have a genetic predisposition do not develop type 2 diabetes. The risk of getting type 2 diabetes increases as you get older.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin due to an autoimmune response that causes the immune system to attack insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Unlike type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes still produce insulin- their bodies just don’t respond well to it. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the world. As many as 9 out of 10 people with diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes. Being overweight, not getting enough exercise, old age, and genetic predisposition increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. In most cases, treatment consists of lifestyle changes, supplemented with medication. In severe cases it is necessary to inject insulin. Type 2 can be completely reverse with diet and exercise, unlike type 1 diabetes.

Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes is not curable. There is also no identifiable cause for this form of diabetes. Predisposition and heredity likely play a major role in the development of this condition. That is why people with type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump for the rest of their lives to manage the condition.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

You can recognize type 2 diabetes by the following symptoms:

  • Being tired often
  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth and excessive thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in legs when walking
  • Recurring infections, such as a bladder infection
  • Wounds that heal poorly
  • Feeling decreased sensation, pain, or tingling in fingers or feet
  • Chest pain

Do you recognize yourself in these symptoms? Then it is wise to test yourself as soon as possible. This can be done at your doctor’s office or simply from home using a  diabetes test.

Is it possible to have type 2 diabetes without knowing it?

Yes, there is a large group of people who have type 2 diabetes without even knowing it. This is possible because diabetes often has vague symptoms in the beginning and many people experience no symptoms at all. The disease is often discovered accidentally when treating an infection or health complaint caused by diabetes. It is often only when you have had type 2 diabetes for a long time that you experience recognizable symptoms such as thirst and dry mouth.

Can anyone get type 2 diabetes?

In principle, anyone can get type 2 diabetes, but some people have an increased risk of this condition. For example, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age. The risk also increases when:

  • You are overweight, especially around your stomach
  • You don’t exercise often and eat unhealthily
  • You have high cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes runs in your immediate family
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You or your mother had gestational diabetes
  • You have had a baby weighing more than 4 kilos
  • You smoke
  • You are of Indian, Moroccan, or Turkish descent
  • You use certain medicines, for example, prednisone
  • You have PCOS, celiac disease or hemochromatosis (iron storage disease)

What percentage of the European population has type 2 diabetes?

There are more than 60 million people in Europe who suffer from diabetes. About 90 percent of these people have type 2 diabetes, making it by far the most common form of diabetes. The number of people with type 2 diabetes has been increasing for years and is also referred to as one of the fastest-growing diseases of affluence. This is why it is important to frequently test for diabetes in order to discover the disease at an early stage before permanent damage occurs.

What is the treatment for type 2 diabetes?

Treating type 2 diabetes involves getting blood glucose levels back to normal levels. This can be done in various ways, for example by:

  • Adjusting your diet (healthy food, fewer carbohydrates).
  • Move more.
  • Use of medicines to regulate your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Sometimes it is necessary to use insulin to counteract fluctuations in blood sugar.
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Stopping smoking.

What should you avoid eating with type 2 diabetes?

People with type 2 diabetes are above all advised to eat a healthy and balanced diet. This means limiting the intake of high carb, sugary foods, such as fruit juices, soft drinks, candy, biscuits, and many desserts. Instead, eating healthy carbs with a low glycemic index such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help control blood sugar. Additionally, a heart healthy diet that limits salt, saturated fats, red meat, and processed meats such as sausage is advised. People with type 2 diabetes are also advised to eat regular meals and ensure they eat a steady amount carbs throughout the day, as both too many and too few carbs can cause unstable blood sugar levels.

There are many things you can do to change your diet when living with diabetes, but it is important to not try everything at once and instead make gradual changes to ensure long-term success. If you have type 2 diabetes and need help building a diet plan, speak to your doctor, a dietitian, or a diabetes educator.

Is type 2 diabetes serious?

Type 2 diabetes can be serious if the disease is not detected in time. This can cause complications, such as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney damage, nerve damage and visual impairment.

Type 2 Diabetes Test - Homed-IQ

Can you grow old with type 2 diabetes?

The life expectancy of people aged 45 with type 2 diabetes is on average 4 years lower than that of people without diabetes. As people get older, this difference becomes smaller (RIVM, 2021).

Can you reverse type 2 diabetes?

Yes, research by Dutch health insurance companies shows that almost 40 percent of people with this form of diabetes can reverse the disease (Diabetes Fund, 2016). By eating healthy, exercising enough, and achieving a healthy weight, you can ensure that your body responds better to insulin. Your blood sugar then decreases and becomes more stable. As a result, some people no longer need medication or insulin. This is called remission or ‘reversing type 2 diabetes’.

How do you prevent type 2 diabetes?

You cannot always prevent type 2 diabetes, but you can greatly reduce the risk of this condition. You do this by eating healthy, exercising enough, quitting smoking, not drinking too much alcohol, and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

How do you test if you have type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed with a home diabetes test, which is a blood test performed by a certified laboratory. This is a finger prick test that you can easily take from home. You then send your sample to a certified laboratory, and you often receive your results within 24 hours. This test measures the average level of sugar in your blood over the past 3 months.

When should you consider a type 2 diabetes test?

If you recognize yourself in the symptoms that are consistent with diabetes, it is wise to take a diabetes test. This test shows whether or not you have diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Test - Homed-IQ

How does a type 2 diabetes test work?

The type 2 diabetes test measures the average blood glucose value over the past 3 months. The result of this test shows whether your glucose levels are within or outside the reference range. If the values ​​are too high, it can mean a greater risk of developing not only diabetes, but also cardiovascular disease or other health problems.

Is the type 2 diabetes test an alternative to a blood test via the GP?

If your doctor suspects you may have type 2 diabetes, he or she will also test your blood HbA1c. This is the same biomarker checked by Homed-IQ’s Blood Sugar Test. The benefit of testing with Homed-IQ is that you can easily perform this test from home and quickly receive a clear test result.

How does the Homed-IQ type 2 diabetes test process work?

This type 2 diabetes test comes with clear instructions that you need to successfully take a blood sample from home. You then send in your blood sample using the prepaid shipping label to certified laboratory. The results are made available within a few days. If it is then necessary to speak to a doctor about the contents of your test result, you can easily print the test report to bring to your GP.

About the author

Anna Roell

Anna is a trained nurse and health economist specializing in epidemiology, combining her medical and scientific interests. Her goal is to improve others' understanding of medical information and to communicate it in an understandable way. Anna is originally from Germany and now lives in Amsterdam. What she appreciates most about Amsterdam is the open-minded, active attitude of the people, the markets, and the beautiful nature in the areas surrounding Amsterdam.