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Diabetes type 2: Key points
  • Glucose is a type of sugar that comes from the food we eat and circulates in the blood.
  • Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter the body's cells, where the sugar is used for fuel.
  • People with type 2 diabetes are resistant to the insulin that is produced in their body. As the resistance increases, glucose is no longer pushed from the blood into the cells. The body can't get the fuel it needs and the level of glucose in the blood becomes too high.
  • Factors that increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes include obesity, an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, having diabetes during pregnancy or a baby that is heavier than 9 pounds when born, certain ethnicities (such as being Hispanic, African-American, or a Pacific Islander), and a family history of the disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes generally develops unnoticed for years, and symptoms (like frequent urination, excessive thirst, and hunger) may or may not appear. Often, diabetes is diagnosed during a routine medical check-up from a blood test when no symptoms are present.
  • Diabetes can be successfully treated. With proper management, people with diabetes can live full, healthy lives. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, type 2 diabetes, over time, can cause serious medical consequences.
  • Weight loss, dietary change, and increased exercise are the initial steps necessary to manage diabetes.
  • Diabetes pills and/or insulin may be used to manage and control blood sugar levels if diet and exercise alone are not enough.
  • Other important components of diabetes management include blood glucose monitoring and meal planning.
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can occur for those taking diabetes pills or insulin. Learning the proper treatment is essential to treat these episodes if they occur.
  • Long-term complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, foot problems, eye problems and kidney disease. Keeping blood glucose under good control can significantly reduce the risk and severity of these medical problems.
  • People with diabetes should get regular checkups including glycohemoglobin tests every 3 months as recommended by their health care providers. The goal number for glycohemoglobin is individualized and generally falls in the range of 6 - 8%. (The non-diabetic range is 4 - 6%.) More frequent glycohemoglobin testing may be necessary if your blood sugar control is not optimal or if your therapy is being changed.
  • Cholesterol levels should be checked periodically. LDL-cholesterol levels should generally be under 100mg/dl.


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Review Date: 7/8/2012
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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