Diabetes happens when the body does not make enough insulin to move glucose from the blood to the cells. This causes glucose to build up in the blood instead of being used by the cells for energy. Type 2 is more common in adults.
Type 2 happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas cannot make enough. This may be due to a person's genes and habits.
Type 2 is more common in people with obesity and those over 45 years of age. People who are American Indian, Alaska natives, Black, and Hispanic are at higher risk. Some other common risks are:
- Prediabetes—slightly high glucose levels
- Metabolic syndrome—fat around the belly and high cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Past gestational diabetes or having a baby that weighs over 9 pounds at birth
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of exercise
- High blood pressure
- Taking certain medicines, such as glucocorticoids or thiazides
Most people do not have problems right away. Others may have:
- Urinating more often
- Being very thirsty
- Blurry eyesight
- Weight loss
- Being very tired
- Frequent infections
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Diabetes is diagnosed with blood tests that check for high glucose levels. More than 1 test may be done.
These blood tests will also be done to find out whether it is type 1 or type 2:
- Insulin level or C-peptide tests to see how much insulin is being made by the pancreas
- Tests that look for antibodies that are working against the pancreas
The goal is to keep glucose levels at close to normal levels. This can be done with:
Healthy habits can help manage type 2, such as:
- Testing blood glucose levels often
- Working with a dietitian to make a meal plan that will help keep blood glucose levels normal
- Getting enough exercise
- Reaching a healthy weight
Some people may need medicine to lower insulin resistance. There are many types. Metformin is a common medicine that is given.
People who cannot manage type 2 with healthy habits and medicine may need insulin. It will replace the insulin hormone that their body does not make. It can be given by injection, inhaler, or by a pump that gives it in small amounts during the day.
A person may not be able to lower the risk of diabetes. Healthy habits may help, such as exercising, staying at a healthy weight, and eating right.
American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American College of Endocrinology. Comprehensive Type 2 Diabetes Management Algorithm 2017. Endocr Pract. 2017 Feb;23(2):207-238.
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- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 09/2019
- Update Date: 07/28/2020