The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen in recent decades. The condition affects millions of people and is one of the leading causes of death. For many, type 2 diabetes is a debilitating illness that causes a reduction in overall quality of life. The health risks associated with type 2 diabetes are immense, and they have the possibility of greatly reducing the life expectancy of persons suffering from the condition.
Insulin production is needed to maintain the body’s overall health. When the body does not produce enough insulin, the digestion of food is affected. During the digestion process, starches and sugars found in food are converted into glucose and placed in the cells; this process ultimately fuels the body. However, when this process is not properly executed, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and cells are not energized. The high levels of glucose in the bloodstream cause damage to vital organs and ultimately lead to an increased risk of death.
Type 2 diabetes is more pronounced among seniors, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans. Much of this is attributed to poor nutrition and heredity. Despite its over-representation among communities of color and the elderly, the increased popularity of fast foods, obesity and sedentary lifestyles have placed all races and sexes at risk of developing the condition.
Type 2 diabetes has the potential to ravage an individual’s health. The condition can lead to kidney failure, strokes, amputations, heart disease, blindness and nerve damage. Expectant mothers with type 2 diabetes generally experience severe complications during pregnancy, and their children are more likely to be born with birth defects.
Life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes is based on a many individual specific factors, including age at diagnosis, overall health and how well the condition is managed. Due to the specificity of these factors, there is no definitive research regarding the life expectancy for all type 2 diabetics. However, studies have shown that regardless of individual circumstances, from the time of diagnosis, there is a 30 percent reduction in life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes.
Proper health management through daily blood monitoring, insulin intake, eating a balanced diet and being physically active can keep type 2 diabetes under control. Type 2 diabetics should avoid consuming alcohol and refrain from smoking. Maintaining the body’s extremities is important as well; diabetics should spend time on skin and foot care to reduce the risk of developing problems. Most importantly, those suffering from type 2 diabetes should see their health-care professional on a regular basis. Regular checkups greatly reduce the risk of minor illnesses developing into serious conditions.
Some surgical procedures have been shown to eliminate type 2 diabetes altogether. Gastric bypass weight loss surgery has been highly effective in eliminating type 2 diabetes in obese people.