Type 2 Diabetes
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is when your body can’t make enough insulin, or use it well. Insulin
helps your cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. Without insulin, glucose builds up in
your blood. This leads to high blood sugar.
2 diabetes is a chronic disease. It has no known cure. It is the most common type of
What causes type 2 diabetes?
exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not known. It seems to run in families. But it often
takes other factors to bring on the disease. These include:
- Being overweight
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Taking certain medicines
Who is at risk for type 2
- Age. People ages 45 and older
are at higher risk for diabetes.
- Family history of diabetes.
The condition tends to run in families.
- Extra weight. Being overweight
puts you at higher risk.
- Lack of exercise. Not enough
physical activity also puts you at risk.
- Taking certain medicines.
These include steroids, some diuretics, and antipsychotics.
- Race and ethnicity. People who
have African, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Island, or American Indian heritage are more
likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes. Having
diabetes in pregnancy puts you at higher risk of type 2 diabetes later.
- Large baby. Giving birth to a
baby over 9 pounds puts you at risk.
- Low HDL. This means low levels
of the "good cholesterol."
- A high triglyceride level.
This is a type of blood fat.
- Smoking. Being a smoker puts
you at higher risk.
- Other health conditions. Some
conditions are linked with type 2 diabetes. These include polycystic ovary syndrome,
acanthosis nigricans (patches of darker skin), or being born at a low birth
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Symptoms may include:
- Frequent bladder infections
- Skin infections that don't heal easily
weakness and fatigue
- Irritability and mood changes
or loss of feeling in the hands or feet
people who have type 2 diabetes don’t have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild and you may
not notice them. Half of all Americans who have diabetes don't know it.
symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be like other health problems. Seeee your healthcare
provider for a diagnosis.
How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?
Diabetes can be diagnosed with several tests. It is best to repeat the tests a second
time to confirm the results. The tests include:
- A1C. This is the hemoglobin
A1C test. It measures your average blood glucose for the past 2 to 3 months. An A1C
of 6.5% or higher means you have diabetes.
- Fasting plasma glucose (FPG).
This test checks your blood glucose levels after 8 hours of fasting. You usually get
this test before your first meal of the day. This is called your fasting blood
glucose level. A result higher than or equal to 126 mg/dl means you have
- Oral glucose tolerance test
(OGTT). For this test, your glucose level is measured before and then after 2
hours after you drink a sugary drink. This shows how well your body processes
glucose. A result of 200 mg/dl or higher after 2 hours means you have diabetes.
- Random glucose test. This
blood test is done at any time of the day. Blood glucose of 200 mg/dl or higher with
symptoms of high blood sugar means you have diabetes.
How is type 2 diabetes treated?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
goal of treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, but not
too low. To do this, you will need to control your blood sugar. You will need to check
may be able to control your type 2 diabetes with weight loss, exercise, and healthy
eating habits. But you may also need to take medicine or insulin.
Treatment may include some or all of these:
- Being more active. Get at
least 150 minutes a week of exercise or physical activity. Don’t let more than 2 days
go by without being active. When sitting for long periods of time, get up for light
activity every 30 minutes.
- Meal planning. You will need
to eat foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to rise too quickly. Your healthcare
provider will give you resources about what foods to plan your meals around.
- Weight loss. Losing just 5% to
7% of your body weight can help. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to
help you lose weight.
- Taking medicine. There are
different types of medicines to treat type 2 diabetes. Each type works in a different
way to lower blood sugar. You may take one or more medicines to improve your blood
- Taking insulin. If oral
medicines don’t work well for you, you may need to inject insulin into your
- Getting blood tests. You will
need to have your A1C level checked several times a year. Experts advise testing at
least twice a year if your blood sugar level is in the target range and stable. You
will need this test more often if your blood sugar level is not stable.
- Routine healthcare. Keep all
appointments. This is so your healthcare provider can track your diabetes. You will
also need to check your feet daily. This is to look for sores or infection. These can
lead to severe foot problems.
What are possible complications of
type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes that is not treated or controlled well can cause problems.
These can include problems with:
can lead to:
- Amputation of feet
these reasons, it is important to follow a strict treatment plan.
- Type 2 diabetes is when your body can’t make enough insulin, or
use it well.
- Insulin helps the cells in your body absorb glucose for energy.
Without insulin, too much glucose is left in the blood. This causes high blood
- Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease. It has no known cure. It
is the most common type of diabetes.
- The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not known. It tends to run
- Diabetes that is not treated or controlled can lead to serious
- The goal of treatment is to keep your blood sugar levels as
close to normal as possible, but not too low. You will need to control your blood
sugar. You will need to get physical activity, plan meals, and get regular
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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