Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset, or non-insulin-dependent
diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body
metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s important source of fuel.
With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of
insulin, a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells,
or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.
More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children
as childhood obesity increases. There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, but
you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising, and
maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to
manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or
Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly. In fact,
you can have type 2 diabetes for years and not know it. Look for:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination. Excess
sugar building up in your bloodstream causes fluid to be pulled from the
tissues. This may leave you thirsty. As a result, you may drink, and
urinate, more than usual.
Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles
and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger.
Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, you may lose
weight. Without the ability to metabolize glucose, the body uses
alternative fuels stored in muscle and fat. Calories are lost, as excess
glucose is released in the urine.
If your cells are deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
If your blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of your eyes. This may affect your ability to focus.
Slow-healing sores or frequent infections.
Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to heal and resist infections.
Areas of darkened skin.
Some people with type 2 diabetes have patches of dark, velvety skin
in the folds and creases of their bodies, usually in the armpits and
neck. This condition, called acanthosis nigricans, may be a sign of
Type 2 diabetes develops, when the body becomes resistant to insulin,
or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Exactly why this
happens is unknown, although genetics and environmental factors, such as
excess weight and inactivity, seem to be contributing factors.
Researchers don’t fully understand why some people develop type 2
diabetes and others don’t. It’s clear, however, that certain factors
increase the risk, including:
Being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The
more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to
insulin. However, you don’t have to be overweight to develop type 2
If your body stores fat primarily in your abdomen, your risk of type 2
diabetes is greater than if your body stores fat elsewhere, such as
your hips and thighs.
The less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as
energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races — including
Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans — are more
likely to develop type 2 diabetes than whites are.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially
after age 45. That’s probably because people tend to exercise less, lose
muscle mass and gain weight as they age. But type 2 diabetes is also
increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults.
Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher
than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Left
untreated, prediabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes.
If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your
risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases. If you gave birth to a
baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you’re also at risk of
type 2 diabetes.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome.
For women, having polycystic ovarian syndrome — a common condition
characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and
obesity — increases the risk of diabetes.
Treatment of type 2 diabetes
According to Mayo Clinic, Management of type 2 diabetes includes:
- Healthy eating
- Regular exercise
- Possibly, diabetes medication or insulin therapy
- Blood sugar monitoring
These steps will help keep your blood sugar level closer to normal, which can delay or prevent complications.