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Slideshow: Type 2 Diabetes Overview

25 April 2011

Type 2 Diabetes: What Is It?

Type 2 diabetes strikes people of all ages, and early symptoms are subtle. In fact, about one out of three people with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it. Diabetes is a chronic condition that thwarts the body’s ability to change food into energy. This allows sugar levels to build up in the blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease, loss of vision, and other serious complications.

Insulin: Turning Glucose Into Energy

1) After eating, the stomach breaks carbohydrates down into sugars, including glucose. 2) Glucose enters the bloodstream and stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas. 3) Insulin and glucose travel in the blood to all the body’s cells. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells and be used as fuel. Excess glucose is stored in the liver.

Type 2 Diabetes

In diabetes, the cells cannot absorb glucose properly. That means glucose levels in the blood become elevated. With insulin resistance, the body makes excess insulin but the muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use or respond properly to insulin. With long-standing, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes the pancreas will reduce the amount of insulin it produces.

Diabetes Warning Sign: Thirst

One of the first symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be an increase in thirst. This is often accompanied by additional problems, including dry mouth, increased appetite, frequent urination -- sometimes as often as every hour -- and unusual weight loss or gain.

You can view the full slideshow at www.webmd.com, where it was first published on 20 April 2011.


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