|Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, the body cannot use insulin properly. It “resists” the action of insulin. Glucose doesn’t get into the body’s cells very well. The body also may not make enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults, but even children develop it.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
To understand type 2 diabetes, first you must understand how glucose is normally processed in the body.
Glucose is a main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues. Glucose comes from two major sources: the food you eat and your liver. During digestion, sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Normally, sugar then enters cells with the help of insulin.
The hormone insulin comes from the pancreas, a gland located just behind the stomach. When you eat, your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream. As insulin circulates, it acts like a key by unlocking microscopic doors that allow sugar to enter your cells. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.
Your liver acts as a glucose storage and manufacturing center. When your insulin levels are low — when you haven't eaten in a while, for example — your liver releases the stored glucose to keep your glucose level within a normal range.
In type 2 diabetes, this process works improperly. Instead of moving into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. This occurs when your pancreas doesn't make enough insulin or your cells become resistant to the action of insulin. Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although excess fat — especially abdominal fat — and inactivity seem to be important factors.
Researchers don't fully understand why some people develop type 2 diabetes and others don't. It's clear that certain factors increase the risk, however, including:
- Weight Being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
- Inactivity The less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Family history The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- Race Although it's unclear why, people of certain races — including blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian Americans — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Age The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45. Often, that's because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age. But type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults.
- Prediabetes Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Left untreated, prediabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later increases. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, you're also at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Source: Mayo Clinic
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