Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that is caused by a combination of lifestyle factors and genetics. Most cases of type 2 diabetes are caused by lifestyle choices and environmental factors, such as being overweight, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough exercise. However, genetics do play a role in some cases of type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your child may also be at risk of getting it too. There are treatments you can do to prevent type 2 diabetes for you and your child. Keep reading to find out more about the causes and risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that is caused by high blood sugar levels. Blood sugar elevates when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or when the body is resistant to insulin. Your cells use insulin to take in glucose, also called blood sugar, which is the principal component cells use to convert into energy. However, when there is too much sugar in the blood it can damage your organs over time.
There are three types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is when the body does not produce any insulin at all because your immune system attacks the cells making insulin in your pancreas and is usually diagnosed as a child or young adult, although it can occur at any time.
- Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not produce enough insulin, or when the body is resistant to insulin. It is the most common form of diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy and usually goes away after your baby is born. Women who have gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
We will focus on type 2 diabetes and whether it is genetic.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic factors and lifestyle choices. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have a family history of diabetes, have a high body mass and are obese, lack physical activity, have high blood pressure, or have high cholesterol levels. Genetic susceptibility to type 2 diabetes and lifestyle choices can also make you insulin resistant. Insulin resistance means that your body has enough insulin to bring glucose to your cells for energy. However, your cells do not use insulin properly and get the sugar they need for energy. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can vary from person to person and typically develop over time. In fact, the symptoms are usually so slow developing that you may not know you have it for some time. Some people with type 2 diabetes may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may have:
- Excessive hunger and thirst
- Frequent urination
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing wounds or frequent infections
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Unexplained weight loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your doctor or health care provider.
Is type 2 diabetes genetic?
The risk of type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Currently, there are 143 known genetic variants that can contribute to diabetes. While you cannot change your genes, you can make lifestyle choices that will help prevent the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, you may be more likely to develop the disease yourself. However, this is not always the case. Even if type 2 diabetes is not genetic, it is still important to make healthy choices to prevent the disease.
What are other risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
In addition to genetics and lifestyle choices, there are other risk factors for type 2 diabetes. These include age, ethnicity, and preexisting medical conditions such as prediabetes, which is having high glucose levels but not at diabetic levels, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have a history of gestational diabetes or if you are overweight or obese. Certain ethnicities are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes including African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino Americans. Age can be a factor as your risk of developing type 2 diabetes starts to increase in your mid-40s and raises even more after the age of 65.
What are the chances my child can develop type 2 diabetes if I already have it?
If you have type 2 diabetes, your child is at an increased risk of developing the disease. However, it is important to remember that this is not a guarantee. There are many factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and each person is different. You can help your child by teaching about a healthy lifestyle, encouraging exercise, and eating a healthy diet. You should also have your child screened for diabetes starting at age ten or at the first signs of puberty if they are obese and show signs of at least two other risk factors. Since families often share the same diet, physical traits such as a tendency towards obesity, and sometimes exercise habits, it is not clear how much genetics contributes to diabetes. It is believed by the medical community that many factors play a role. Genetics do play a bigger role in type 2 diabetes than type 1 diabetes.
What treatments are available for type 2 diabetes?
While there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, treatments are available to help you manage the disease. These include medications, insulin therapy, and lifestyle changes. Medications used to treat type 2 diabetes include those used for glucose control, aspirin to help prevent cardiovascular disease, and blood pressure medications. Insulin therapy, such as insulin injections or an insulin pump, is also a common treatment for type 2 diabetes and may be needed if you are unable to control your blood glucose levels with medications alone. Lifestyle changes that can help manage type 2 diabetes include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. If you have difficulty making these changes on your own, there are many resources available to help you, including diabetes education classes, support groups, and online tools.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Hereditary components can play a role in type 2 diabetes but you can make lifestyle choices that will help prevent and manage the disease. If you have type 2 diabetes, your child is at an increased risk of developing the disease, although this is not a guarantee. There are many treatments available for type 2 diabetes including medications, insulin therapy, and lifestyle changes. Making these changes can help you manage the disease and prevent complications. If you have more questions about the different forms of diabetes please talk to your doctor or health care provider.
References and Sources:
American Family Physician
American Diabetes Association
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Owner, entrepreneur, and consumer health enthusiast.