Type 2 diabetes means your body cannot process insulin properly or the insulin it does produce is not being taken up by the cells. The primary role of insulin is to regulate blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in blood. Stripped of insulin, blood sugar levels can rise to a “dangerously” high level, warns Bupa.
One of the most serious casualties of consistently high blood sugar levels is neuropathy.
Neuropathy is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves. Peripheral neuropathy develops when nerves in the body’s extremities, such as the hands, feet and arms, are damaged.
According to Bupa, this nerve damage can cause “tingling, burning sensations or loss of feeling”.
Consistently high blood sugar levels can also cause:
- Damage to your eyes, which can lead to loss of vision
- Heart disease and stroke
- Foot ulcers
- Persistent or regular infections, especially skin and urine infections.
How to respond
Following a healthy lifestyle can help to control your glucose (sugar) level and reduce your risk of developing complications.
Tweaking your diet is one of the most effective countermeasures against high blood sugar levels.
A simple and free tip is to drink more water.
Diabetes.co.uk explains: “When your blood sugar levels are running high, your body will try to flush excess sugar out of your blood through the urine.
“As a result, your body will need more fluids to rehydrate itself. Drinking water can help the body with flushing out some of the glucose in the blood.”
The health body adds a note of caution: be sensible with drinking water.
“Water intoxication (which can result in death) is possible if a number of litres of water are drunk in a short space of time,” it warns.
You should also cut back on carbohydrates that rank high on the glycaemic index (GI).
The glycaemic index (GI) is a scale from one to 100 that is used to measure how quickly foods that contain carbohydrates raise blood glucose.
Foods that rank high on the GI index have a more pronounced impact on blood sugar levels.
High GI foods include white bread, potatoes and white rice.
Low or medium GI foods, which are broken down more slowly, include some fruit, vegetables and pulses.
Type 2 diabetes – do you have it?
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising.
This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision.
See a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes, advises the NHS.