Late onset diabetes is a medical condition characterized by difficulty processing dietary sugar as a result of the development of resistance in the body to insulin, the hormone involved in glucose metabolism. It is one of a family of conditions known colloquially as “diabetes” and is the most common form of diabetes, occurring at any point during adulthood. It is also known as adult onset, age onset, non-insulin-dependent, or type II diabetes. Patients with this condition may be able to manage it with diet and exercise alone, and in other cases medications are needed to address the issue.
In patients with late onset diabetes, two different phenomena can occur. One is that the pancreas may fail to produce insulin in the quantities needed, leading to a difficulty with processing glucose. The body can also become resistant to insulin. Whether the body is producing enough, the patient has trouble utilizing the hormone effectively. This leads to an increase in blood sugar over time and can cause complications like neuropathy and high blood pressure.
This form of diabetes is less severe than type I diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. Especially if caught early, it can be very manageable and the patient's risk of complications like vision loss is greatly reduced. In patients who cannot control their diabetes adequately, it may be necessary to take insulin shots, belying the name “non-insulin-dependent diabetes,” and other medications may be used in the management of the condition as well, depending on the symptoms the patient experiences.
People at risk of developing late onset diabetes are primarily older adults who are overweight and do not get adequate exercise. People with this condition can develop symptoms like fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, and blurred vision. Medical evaluation will reveal increased blood glucose, indicative of diabetes. Depending on how high the patient's blood sugar is and what complications have developed, treatment can vary from relatively conservative measures to more aggressive ones, with the goal of controlling and limiting damage inside the patient's body.
After people have developed late onset diabetes, they cannot reverse the condition. There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing it or to get high blood sugar under control before full-blown diabetes develops. If a doctor believes late onset diabetes is a concern, blood testing can be used to check for the signs of pre-diabetes, where blood sugar is starting to rise and the patient is beginning to experience symptoms.