How to Live a Normal Life with Type 2 Adult-Onset Diabetes

Medicare Benefits Solutions
May 4, 2022

If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you may be worried about the effects it will have on your lifestyle. Understanding Type 2 adult-onset diabetes and learning how to manage your condition can help you stay healthy and active.

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Types of Diabetes

Most people know of diabetes as Type 1 and Type 2, with Type 2 being the most common. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) defines Type 2 diabetes as “a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.”

However, as Harvard Health Publishing points out, Type 2 is a different disease than Type 1, though both are characteristic of abnormally high blood sugar levels and consequential health complications.

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Type 1 Diabetes Overview

You can develop Type 1 diabetes at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in children and adolescents. Some people have referred to Type 1 as juvenile diabetes, though it can develop in adulthood across all races, and body shapes and sizes. With Type 1, your body is not producing insulin, a hormone the pancreas releases to move glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells to generate energy.

Type 2 Diabetes Overview

Type 2 typically begins in adulthood and is typically referred to as adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 adult-onset diabetes is a condition in which your body is capable of manufacturing insulin but unable to use it for food-to-energy conversion. However, glucose building up in your blood over an extended period can cause your body to stop producing enough insulin.

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults

LADA refers to a condition where your body stops producing a sufficient level of insulin (like Type 1) but initially makes some insulin (like Type 2). Some researchers classify this condition as Type 1.5, but you may hear it referred to as late-onset Type 2 diabetes. LADA is most common in people over age 30.

New-Onset Diabetes

Typically, Type 2 symptoms present gradually, unlike Type 1 where the onset can be sudden. New-onset diabetes or sudden-onset Type 2 diabetes adults refers to newly diagnosed patients with no diabetes history. One of the causes of sudden-onset diabetes in adults may be a tumor in the pancreas, according to research published in the National Library of Medicine. “New-onset diabetes is present in nearly half of all pancreatic cancers and various lines of evidence suggest that diabetes is caused by the cancer.”

The American Diabetes Association reassures patients that by learning how to manage the disease, adhering to your doctor’s treatment plan and living a healthy lifestyle, people with diabetes can enjoy a normal life.

Diabetes Type 2 Symptoms

Type 2 diabetes is usually preceded by pre-diabetes symptoms. The Mayo Clinic warns that the following changes in your body may signal pre-diabetes progressing to adult-onset diabetes:

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue and weight loss
  • Blurry vision and numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • Frequent infections and sores that are slow to heal

Type 2 Diabetes Contributing Factors

The NIDDK lists the following contributing factors for developing adult-onset diabetes Type 2:

  • Being overweight, obese and sedentary
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Belonging to one of the following groups: African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes increases if you:

  • Are 45 years of age or older
  • Have diabetes in your family history
  • Are overweight or physically inactive
  • Have certain kinds of health issues like high blood pressure

Treatments for Type 2 Adult-Onset Diabetes

While there is currently no cure for adult-onset diabetes, you can take measures to manage your symptoms and potentially slow the progression of the disease.

Here are 10 steps you can take now to manage your condition and live a normal life:

  • Adhere to your doctor’s treatment plan for insulin and diabetes medication.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels.
  • Consult with a nutritionist to help you implement customized weight management strategies.
  • Try easy recipes for meal preparation to avoid processed foods.
  • Commit to staying active on a daily basis.
  • Strive for optimal nutrition.
  • Manage high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Schedule ongoing checkups and vision tests.
  • If you smoke, get help to stop.
  • Sign up for Living With Type 2 Diabetes, a program created by the American Diabetes Association.

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Medicare Coverage for Diabetes

Medicare Part B includes a wide range of benefits for Medicare recipients with diabetes. Preventive services include diabetes screenings, self-management training and nutrition therapy services.

Medicare also covers diabetes-related equipment and supplies. You may be eligible for customized shoes and inserts. If you have certain foot conditions related to diabetes like nerve damage, heel spurs, hammertoe, or deformities, you may be eligible for foot care.

For the most Part B services, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount after you meet the deductible. If Medicare-approved, you pay nothing for diabetes screenings and nutrition therapy services, as long as your doctor is a Medicare-participating provider who accepts assignment.

If you have pre-diabetes, sign up for the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program. If you qualify for the program, there is no cost for your participation. Medicare promotes the training as a “proven health behavior change program to help you prevent Type 2 diabetes.” You get six months of weekly group meetings plus six months of follow-up classes to help you maintain your healthy behaviors.

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