Type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, your body is no longer as sensitive to insulin (called insulin resistance), or your pancreas cannot make enough insulin. Often it is a combination of both these things.

We all need insulin to live. It does an important job in getting glucose (a kind of sugar from foods and drinks) to move out of our blood and into our cells. Glucose fuels our body.

With insulin resistance, your insulin becomes less effective. This means your pancreas has to make more insulin to get the glucose out of your blood for your body to use for energy.

The cells in your pancreas that make insulin may start to fail over time. You can no longer make enough insulin.

This leads to a gradual increase in the levels of glucose in your blood. And often this happens very slowly, which is why many people do not feel unwell or notice when they develop type 2 diabetes.

It is not your fault you have developed type 2 diabetes. However, there are things you can do to reduce the effect of diabetes on your health. These include eating well and keeping active. It’s not easy, but you do not have to do it alone.

Learning self-management

Everyone will manage their diabetes differently. But there are some essential things you will need to learn to do. You will not always get it right. And that’s okay. Be safe – ask for help whenever you need it.

Eating well and keeping active are the cornerstones of managing type 2 diabetes. This does not mean you will need to go on a special diet. You do not have to join a gym immediately either. Start with what you can do, not with all the things you think you cannot do. What works for one person, may not work for another.

Understand that type 2 diabetes does change over time. This means that you will most likely need to start a medication. For some people, giving insulin is the best way to stay healthy. Not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs to monitor their blood glucose levels every day.

Get reliable information early on. Talk to one of our health professionals to help work out a management plan that suits you.

Daily life

You may have many questions about life with type 2 diabetes. What kinds of foods or drink will make my blood glucose levels rise? Can I continue to drive a vehicle?  What happens when I get sick? What if I’m thinking of having a baby? There is plenty of information around these and other topics either in the information booklet you receive when you register with the NDSS, or on the NDSS website. It may help to take the information booklet to your diabetes appointments.

Most importantly, look after your emotional wellbeing. If you find yourself struggling, or just feeling like you can’t be bothered – it’s time to talk. Learning how to cope with the ups and downs of type 2 diabetes is not something you need to do alone.

If you’re caring for a child or living with a family member or partner with type 2 diabetes, you may also feel overwhelmed at times. Looking after yourself is an important step in caring for your loved one. Start with the information here. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Support

You may have a simple question. You may feel like you’re struggling. Or, it might be that you want to find out about new technology or research. Whatever you need, get in touch.

FAQs

How do I know if my diabetes is “mild” or “serious”?

There is no type of diabetes that is more or less serious than another. What is important is the level of glucose in your blood. If blood glucose levels are high over time the risk of causing damage to other areas of your body increases. Being active and eating well are always the first steps in keeping your blood glucose levels in a safe range. However, medications are important at improving insulin resistance or increasing your body’s insulin production. Insulin may be needed, not because your diabetes is “worse” or “serious” but simply because your own pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin for your body. The complications of diabetes are serious. Diabetes does not have to be serious with the right support and regular care.

How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test, which your GP or nurse practitioner can order. There are a few different blood tests. Ask for your result and write it down. For example, if the test was a glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), the number will be a percent (%). 6.5% and over means diabetes is likely. If it was a fasting or random blood glucose it will be in millimoles per litre (mmol/L) and 7.0 mmol/L or over means diabetes is likely.

Can I reverse my type 2 diabetes?

There has been some recent research about reversing type 2 diabetes (referred to as “remission”). This involves a very intensive and well-supported program of weight loss. The program did not work for everyone, and it’s unclear how sustainable it is and if diabetes will return and when.

Will I have to take insulin?

Type 2 diabetes is a complicated condition. Even after doing everything you can to eat well and stay active, you may still require extra insulin. This is because the cells in your pancreas that make insulin are not working as well as they used to. The cause could be genetic or the consequences of getting older.

If your body cannot produce the insulin you need then the best treatment is to replace that insulin. The only way we can give insulin is as an injection under the skin. If you need insulin it’s not your fault. It does not mean your diabetes is “serious” or “worse”. It is natural to feel nervous about injecting any medication. Talk to a diabetes educator about your concerns. We’re here to help.

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