Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there are high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.1
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by special cells, called beta cells. The pancreas is below and behind the stomach. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells. Inside the cells, glucose is stored and later used for energy.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your fat, liver and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar does not get into these cells to be stored for energy.
When sugar cannot enter cells, a high level of sugar builds up in the blood. This is called hyper-glycemia. The body is unable to use the glucose for energy. This leads to the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops slowly over time. Most people with the disease are overweight or obese when they are diagnosed. Increased fat makes it harder for your body to use insulin the correct way.
Type 2 diabetes can also develop in people who are not overweight or obese. This is more common in older adults.
Family history and genes play a role in type 2 diabetes. Low activity level, poor diet and excess body weight around the waist increase your chance of getting the disease.1
People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first. They may not have symptoms for many years.
Early symptoms of diabetes caused by a high blood sugar level may include:
- Bladder, kidney, skin or other infections that are more frequent or heal slowly
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Blurred vision
After many years, diabetes can lead to serious health problems and as a result, many other symptoms. 1
Exams and Tests
Your doctor may suspect that you have diabetes if your blood sugar level is higher than 200 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) or 11.1 mmol/L. To confirm the diagnosis, one or more of the following tests must be done:
- Fasting blood glucose level – Diabetes is diagnosed if it is higher than 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) two different times.
- Hemoglobin A1c (A1C) test – Diabetes is diagnosed if the test result is 6.5 % or higher.
- Oral glucose tolerance test – Diabetes is diagnosed if the glucose level is higher than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) 2 hours after drinking a special sugar drink.
Diabetes Screening is recommended for:
- Overweight children who have other risk factors for diabetes, starting at age 10 and repeated every 2 years
- Overweight adults (BMI of 25 or higher) who have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, or having a mother, father, sister or brother with diabetes
- Adults starting at age 45 every 3 years, or at a younger age if the person has risk factors
- If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you need to work closely with your doctor. See your doctor as often as instructed. This may be every 3 months.1
There is no cure for diabetes. Treatment involves medicines, diet, and exercise to control blood sugar and prevent symptoms and problems.