Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.

  • Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

While diabetes occurs in people of all ages and races, some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

Conditions & Treatments

In type 2 diabetes, the body fails to properly use insulin, which is needed to take sugar from the blood to the cells. You can learn more about some conditions (including hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia) and how to prevent them in this section. You will also find helpful information about insulin, diagnostic tests and tips on what to expect from your health care provider.

Hypoglycemia - Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can happen even during those times when you're doing all you can to control your diabetes.

Hyperglycemia - Hyperglycemia is a major cause of many of the complications that happen to people who have diabetes. For this reason, it's important to know what hyperglycemia is, what its symptoms are, and how to treat it.

What is Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS)? - Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome, or HHNS, is a serious condition most frequently seen in older persons. HHNS can happen to people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but it occurs more often in people with type 2.

Managing Your Blood Glucose - Keeping your blood sugar as close to normal as possible helps you feel better and reduces the risk of long-term complications of diabetes. Learn about checking your blood sugar, tight diabetes control, and an A1C test.

About Insulin - In people with type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin, or the cells ignore the insulin.

Insulin Pumps - Learn how you can use an insulin pump to help manage your diabetes.

Other Medications for Type 2 Diabetes - The first treatment for type 2 diabetes is often meal planning for blood sugar control, weight loss, and exercising. Sometimes these measures are not enough to bring blood sugar down near the normal range. The next step is taking a medicine that lowers blood glucose levels.

Transplantation - Diabetes sometimes damages kidneys so badly that they no longer work. When kidneys fail, one option is a kidney transplant.

Related Conditions - Learn more about Agent Orange, hemochromatosis and frozen shoulder, and how they relate to type 2 diabetes, in this section.

Complications

Heart Disease and Stroke - People with diabetes have extra reason to be mindful of heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes carries an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and complications related to poor circulation.

Kidney Disease - Diabetes can damage the kidneys, which not only can cause them to fail, but can also make them lose their ability to filter out waste products.

Eye Complications - Diabetes can cause eye problems and may lead to blindness. People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. Early detection and treatment of eye problems can save your sight.
Further Reading . . .

Diabetic Neuropathy and Nerve Damage - One of the most common complications of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy means damage to the nerves that run throughout the body, connecting the spinal cord to muscles, skin, blood vessels, and other organs.

Foot Complications - People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage in the feet or when blood flow is poor. Learn how to protect your feet by following some basic guidelines.

Skin Complications - As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. In fact, such problems are sometimes the first sign that a person has diabetes. Luckily, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated if caught early.

Gastroparesis and Diabetes - Gastroparesis is a disorder that affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Depression - Feeling down once in a while is normal. But some people feel a sadness that just won't go away. Life seems hopeless. Feeling this way most of the day for two weeks or more is a sign of serious depression.

Your Body's Well Being

Make it a priority to take good care of your body. The time you spend now on eye care, foot care and skin care, as well as your heart health and oral health, could delay or prevent the onset of dangerous diabetes complications later in life. In addition, one of the best things you can do for your body is to stop smoking.

Heart Disease and Stroke - People with diabetes have extra reason to be mindful of heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes carries an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and complications related to poor circulation.

Skin Care - As many as one-third of people with diabetes will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some time in their lives. In fact, such problems are sometimes the first sign that a person has diabetes. Luckily, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated if caught early.

Foot Care - People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage in the feet or when blood flow is poor. Learn how to protect your feet by following some basic guidelines.

Eye Care - Diabetes can cause eye problems and may lead to blindness. People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. Early detection and treatment of eye problems can save your sight.

Oral Health & Oral Hygiene - If you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk for gum disease and other mouth-related problems. Learn more about maintaining good dental health.

Smoking - Kicking the smoking habit is hard, but worth the work. Tobacco has many bad health effects, particularly for people with diabetes. No matter how long you've smoked, your health will improve when you quit.

Alcohol - Alcohol is everywhere: at family gatherings, at cookouts, after the company softball game, and at parties. One very common question is "What would you like to drink?" If you have diabetes, what do you say?

Stress - Stress results when something causes your body to behave as if it were under attack. Sources of stress can be physical, like injury or illness. Or they can be mental, like problems in your marriage, job, health, or finances.

Common Concerns

When You're Sick - Being sick can make your blood glucose (sugar) level go up very high. It can also cause serious conditions that can put you in a coma. The best way to prevent a minor illness from becoming a major problem is to work out a plan of action for sick days ahead of time.

Flu & Pneumonia Shots - Having the flu can be dangerous for anyone. But it is extra risky for people with diabetes or other chronic health problems.

When You Travel - Planning a trip? Whether you're camping or cruising, you can go anywhere and do almost anything. It just takes a little planning ahead to handle your diabetes.

Tips for Emergency Preparedness - Recent concerns about terrorist attacks have simply increased our awareness of the need to be prepared if a disaster strikes. People with diabetes must consider proper diabetes care when they make emergency plans.

Anger - Diabetes is the perfect breeding ground for anger. Anger can start at diagnosis with the question, "Why me?" You may dwell on how unfair diabetes is: "I'm so angry at this disease! I don't want to treat it. I don't want to control it. I hate it!"

Depression - Feeling down once in a while is normal. But some people feel a sadness that just won't go away. Life seems hopeless. Feeling this way most of the day for two weeks or more is a sign of serious depression.

Denial - Denial is that voice inside repeating: "Not me." Most people go through denial when they are first diagnosed with diabetes. "I don't believe it. There must be some mistake," they say.

Discrimination - Diabetes should not be a cause of discrimination in the workplace, daycare centers, or public schools. Our Legal Advocacy division fights to ensure that disabilities rights laws protect people with diabetes.