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Type 2 Diabetes

Alternative names: Adult-Onset Diabetes, Noninsulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, making up 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas creates insulin, but the body can't use it effectively. This means that glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood instead of being used by the body as fuel.

What are the signs of type 2 diabetes?

Unlike with type 1 diabetes, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes appear slowly. Some people have no symptoms. Signs of type 2 diabetes may include:

  • Being unusually thirsty, and having a dry mouth
  • Urinating more often than normal
  • Feeling extremely tired and without energy
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Losing weight despite an increased appetite
  • Having wounds that take a long time to heal
  • Having blurred vision

Other conditions that can be caused by type 2 diabetes include kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and poor eyesight. Many people with type 2 diabetes start to develop these complications before their diabetes is diagnosed.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the result of the body not being able to use insulin properly. Normally, insulin moves sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the rest of the body, where the sugar is used as fuel. In a person with type 2 diabetes, that sugar builds up in the bloodstream instead of being used by the body. Without insulin, a person with type 2 diabetes may feel hungry and listless, even if he or she just ate.

In many cases of type 2 diabetes, the pancreas creates enough insulin, but glucose remains in the blood instead of being used as fuel. In such cases, the pancreas will gradually stop producing insulin.

Over 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. People who are not active are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as are people with a family history of diabetes. Research has shown that people of certain races are more likely to get type 2 diabetes, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders

How does my doctor tell if I have type 2 diabetes?

In order to diagnose type 2 diabetes, your doctor will check the sugar, or glucose, levels in your blood. The fasting plasma glucose test is the most common test, and is done after you have not eaten for at least eight hours. Your doctor may also check the sugar levels in your urine, or do other tests to check your insulin or protein levels.

How is type 2 diabetes treated?

A good diet and regular exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes. Such good habits also can aid those who already have the condition, and will keep serious complications??like kidney failure, heart disease and stroke??from developing. Exercise lowers blood sugar, reduces weight, and may help insulin work more effectively.

People with type 2 diabetes must keep track of their blood sugar levels, and possibly take medications to lower blood sugar. About one-third of people with type 2 diabetes use insulin injections to help control their condition.

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