Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder in which your body does not process glucose (sugar) the way that it should, largely due to insensitivity to a hormone called Insulin. All cells in your body require glucose to function normally, and insulin is the hormone that tells your cells to absorb the glucose that is floating in your bloodstream. In individuals with Type 2 diabetes, cells have lost their sensitivity to insulin, and therefore, require greater amounts of insulin hormone in order to absorb glucose from their blood. Initially, this is a small favor to ask of the body. However, over time, the body will lose the ability to accommodate this favor, and the excess glucose circulating in the blood will begin to cause significant and irreversible damage to nearly every organ in the body.
Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is common in the U.S., and Arkansas has one of the highest rates among states with nearly 12.5% of Arkansas residents being affected by the disease. Many factors contribute to developing diabetes, including genetics, diet, and activity level. In general, a family history of diabetes, obesity, a diet high in processed foods, and physical inactivity increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Conversely, a well-balanced healthy diet and regular physical activity can help reduce your chances of developing diabetes and be an effective treatment for certain individuals who have diabetes. And for those who don’t have success with lifestyle changes alone, there are a wide variety of safe and effective medications available to help control type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, I want you take the following messages with you: First, if you are experiencing any common symptoms of type 2 diabetes – such as increased thirst, fatigue, and/or increased frequency of urination, please reach out to your primary care provider to be evaluated. Second, please ensure you are seeing your primary care provider annually for health screenings. Type 2 diabetes is one of many conditions’ providers will routinely screen for at these visits, and early intervention can help prevent or minimize organ damage.
Tyeler Barker, MD, is accepting patients at White River Health Internal Medicine. To schedule an appointment, call 870-262-1530.