Key Points about Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (hormone required to perform bodily processes) or resists the normal effects of insulin.
  • The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes involves blood tests that check blood sugar levels.
  • Treatment for type 2 diabetes is life-long and may include taking medication or insulin, losing weight, eating healthy and exercising regularly.

Overview

Type 2 is a chronic (long-term) condition that changes the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose) into energy for your body. In people with this condition, the body either resists the effects of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain stable glucose levels. Though the condition has historically affected mostly adults, more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes causes

Researchers don’t know the exact cause of type 2 diabetes, but they believe that genetics, being obese and having a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing the condition.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors

Certain risk factors can raise your risk for being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, such as:

  • Being African American, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian-American
  • Being male with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches, or female with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches
  • Being over age 45
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a close family member (parent or sibling) with type 2 diabetes
  • Having areas of darkened skin, typically in the armpits or neck
  • Having gestational diabetes (during pregnancy)
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Having pre-diabetes
  • Not exercising regularly

Type 2 diabetes symptoms

The signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes typically come on gradually, and can include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Darkened skin in the armpits or neck
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Frequent urgency to urinate
  • Increased thirst or hunger
  • Problems with skin healing
  • Unintentional weight loss

Type 2 diabetes prevention

Although type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease affecting millions, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

  • Choose to drink water instead of soda
  • Decrease your intake of processed foods
  • Eat whole foods high in fiber
  • Get plenty of exercise, even 30 minutes a day can help
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce sugar and refined carbs

Type 2 diabetes diagnosis

The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test measures your average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. The A1C test is a fairly definitive test for this condition. If you can’t undergo the A1C test for some reason, your doctor may recommend you under a random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test or oral glucose tolerance test to confirm your diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes treatment

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that requires life-long monitoring and treatment. Treatment may include:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels
  • Taking medication or insulin

If your body mass index (BMI) is over 35 and you have type 2 diabetes, you may be a candidate for bariatric (weight loss) surgery. Losing a substantial amount of weight can help you manage your diabetes and reduce symptoms.

When to seek care

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing an endocrinologist for more specialized treatment.