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Diabetes Health Center

Type 2 Diabetes

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Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of type 2 diabetes.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, once called non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90% to 95% of the 26 million Americans with diabetes.

Just a few years ago, it was rare to hear about a child with type 2 diabetes. It used to be thought that if diabetes occurred in childhood, it was type 1, or juvenile-onset, diabetes. Not anymore.

Type 2 diabetes can cause serious health complications. That's why is very important to know how to spot type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. While not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, obesity and lack of physical activity are two of the most common causes of this form of diabetes.

Do you have health risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes prevention is possible by adopting some healthy lifestyle habits and paying attention to specific preventable diabetes complications associated with this disease.

Maintaining a healthy diet is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with diabetes.

Exercise is very important in managing type 2 diabetes. Combining diet, exercise, and medicine (when prescribed) can help control your weight and blood sugar level.

Check this list before you implement your exercise plan.

Diagnosis and Tests

Type 2 diabetes is a common and serious disease in the United States and worldwide. However, it’s thought that one-third of those with type 2 diabetes are unaware that they have this serious illness.

If you experience symptoms of severe increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, increased hunger, tingling of your hands or feet -- your doctor may run a test for diabetes. 

Though not routinely used anymore, the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is the gold standard for making the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

The hemoglobin A1c test -- also called HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin test, or glycohemoglobin -- is an important blood test used to determine how well your diabetes is being controlled.


Increasingly, weight loss surgery is being used as a tool to manage type 2 diabetes. That's because controlling diabetes and managing the related health risks is directly related to losing weight.

Diabetes treatment can include many elements, including traditional medications, alternative medicine, and natural remedies.

Today, metformin is the first drug doctors usually recommend for people with type 2 diabetes who need to take medication.

Oral diabetes medications -- diabetes pills -- help control blood sugar levels in people whose bodies still produce some insulin (the majority of people with type 2 diabetes).

If you have diabetes, you likely have a care team that includes a primary care doctor, dietitian, diabetes educator, eye doctor, foot doctor, dentist, and possibly an exercise trainer.


When used as a medication, it is derived from either pork (porcine), beef (no longer available in the U.S.), or is genetically made to be identical to human insulin.

Inhaled insulin is another option that’s been considered. Although it’s possible to make inhaled insulin, there are no inhaled insulin drugs on the market.

For those with diabetes, an insulin shot delivers medicine into your subcutaneous tissue -- the tissue between your skin and muscle.

The symptoms of diabetic shock may seem mild at first. But they should not be ignored.

If you have type 2 diabetes and take insulin, you may want to ask your doctor about the insulin pump.


People who have diabetes often have poor sleep habits, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Diabetic coma -- also known as hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome -- is a serious complication that can happen to a person with diabetes who is ill or whose body is stressed.

Cold sweats, trembling hands, intense anxiety, a general sense of confusion -- no, it's not the night before final exams. These are the signs of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.

If you have diabetes, it's important to understand your heart disease risk and what you can do to lower it.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to understand your increased risk of stroke.

Diabetes can slow down your body's ability to fight infection. High blood sugar (glucose) leads to high levels of sugar in your body's tissues, allowing bacteria to grow and infections to develop more quickly.

Diabetic nephropathy -- kidney disease that results from diabetes -- is the number one cause of kidney failure. Almost a third of people with diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy.

Inactivity and obestiy increase the risk for diabetes, but exactly how is unclear. Recent research suggests that inflammation inside the body plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.



WebMD Type 2 Diabetes Health Check is a health assessment that guides you through a series of physician-created questions to determine how well your type 2 diabetes is controlled. This type 2 diabetes assessment was designed to explore and evaluate your personal health and lifestyle history to help you manage your health and your family’s health better.

Do you have all the facts about the symptoms, treatments, and possible complications of type 2 diabetes? Take this WebMD quiz and find out.

Tune in and learn. Get reliable information about type 2 diabetes, tips from diabetes experts, and real-life stories about people living with type 2 diabetes.

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