Understanding Type 2 Diabetes: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and the Role of Physiotherapy

Globally, diabetes is an epidemic. Over 450 million people globally, including 1 in 5 of those over 65, have diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Currently, an estimated 1.7 million Australians suffer from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has increased, and complications from the disease are a major issue (many of which are avoidable).

Type 2 diabetes is what?

Diabetes sufferers have either unusually high or low blood sugar levels.

The body either cannot use the insulin it does make well or cannot produce enough of it in Type 2 diabetes. Glucose, a sugar from our diet, enters our cells through the hormone insulin and transforms it into energy.

What are diabetic symptoms?

Many people with type 2 diabetes show no symptoms at all.

Certain of the warning signals can be written off as part of “getting older.” because type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed later in life. Often, the consequences of type 2 diabetes become apparent immediately upon diagnosis.

Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Passing more urine
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Itching, skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Gradually putting on weight
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps

Diabetes, if left untreated or poorly controlled, can lead to serious complications that damage blood vessels, nerves, and organs, including the kidneys, limbs, and eyes. Still, people with diabetes can live full and normal lives with the appropriate care and a healthy lifestyle.

Who runs the danger of getting type 2 diabetes?

People are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they:

  • have a family history of diabetes
  • are over 55 years of age – the risk increases as we age
  • are over 45 years of age and are overweight or have high blood-pressure
  • are over 35 years of age and are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background
  • are a woman who has given birth to a child over 4.5 kgs (9 lbs), or had gestational diabetes when pregnant, or had a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

*Although type 2 diabetes is not currently curable, some lifestyle changes can help control the disease. Effective disease management is the best defence against problems associated with diabetes.

How might physiotherapists assist people with diabetes?

Exercise lowers body fat, increases muscle mass, lowers blood sugar metabolism, and improves cardiovascular fitness—all of which help to prevent or postpone the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Beyond evaluating, diagnosing, treating, and managing the musculoskeletal symptoms and problems of type 2 diabetes, physiotherapists can do more.

Physiotherapists can coach patients in physical fitness and active, healthy living in addition to designing, delivering, and implementing exercise programmes for the management of type 2 diabetes.

Exercise and a balanced diet are essential for both prevention and treatment of those already diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes sufferers frequently also have other medical conditions or are at risk for other health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke history, or obesity. Our Active Health Co. Physiotherapists can consider these ailments and then tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.

Give us a call today and book an appointment.