Type 2 diabetes is a rapidly growing global health concern. It is estimated to affect more than 300 million people worldwide, and around 90% of all diabetics have this form of the condition. However, despite type 2 being well and truly in the spotlight, it is still frequently misunderstood. Much has been said in the media about the connection between type 2 diabetes, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle – so much so that perhaps we’re inclined to feel unsympathetic towards type 2 patients? But even while it’s true that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in many cases, it remains a serious and incurable condition which can only be controlled through a constant effort on the patient’s part.
As is the case with so many invisible illnesses, women are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes during the menopause or following a hysterectomy. Fluctuating hormone levels affect the level of glucose in the blood, leaving women susceptible to the condition even if they are active and lead a healthy lifestyle. To further complicate matters, the symptoms of diabetes (including behavioural changes, frequent urination, excessive thirst and sexual dysfunction) can be mistaken for menopausal symptoms! Diagnosis can take longer for women in this position, and in the time between the onset and diagnosis, serious damage can be done.
Some of the consequences of high blood sugar over time include:
- Furring or hardening of the arteries. This increases the risk of heart disease and strokes.
- Nerve damage. This can lead to loss of sensation, or in some cases, chronic pain.
- Poor circulation. This prevents wounds from healing, and can lead to other complications like impotence.
- Foot issues. Cuts or blisters can take longer to heal, and may become infected or develop into ulcers. In extreme cases, this can even result in amputation.
Additionally, Type 2 Diabetics may go into HHS – a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state – if their blood sugar levels remain too high for too long, and slip into a coma. This is rare, and is usually the result of an infection taking its toll on the patient’s system. But once again, hormones play a role in driving the blood glucose level to dangerous heights.
Throughout 2014, Covance has completed several major trials to improve treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are working to address this condition – from a medical standpoint, it is being taken very seriously, and patients are not being left to suffer the consequences of diabetes alone.
Whether or not you are one of the many millions of people who has type 2 diabetes, you can help to join the fight against invisible illnesses with Covance by becoming a clinical trial volunteer.
(Image: Mikael Häggström: Wikipedia.com)