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Type 2 Diabetes Overview

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What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Although it is more common than type 1 diabetes, the causes of type 2 diabetes are less well understood. It is likely caused by many things.

Type 2 diabetes can run in families, but the how it's inherited is not known.

For more detail, see Causes of Type 2 Diabetes.

What Are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?

Very often, people with type 2 diabetes will have no symptoms. When symptoms of type 2 diabetes happen, they vary from person to person and include:

Rarely, a person may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after falling into a diabetic coma.

For more detail, see Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms.

How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

To diagnose type 2 diabetes, your doctor will first check for abnormalities in your blood (high blood glucose level) during a random fasting blood test or through a screening test known as the 2-hour glucose tolerance test. Or you may get a blood test called a hemoglobin A1c that shows your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months. Also, he or she may look for glucose or ketones in your urine.

Because adults can be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your doctor may suggest a zinc transporter 8 autoantibody (ZnT8Ab) test. This blood test -- along with other information and test results -- can help determine if a person has type 1 diabetes instead of another type. The goal of having the ZnT8Ab test is a prompt and accurate diagnosis and that can lead to timely treatment.

For more detail, see Diagnosis of Diabetes.

Complications Associated With Type 2 Diabetes

If your type 2 diabetes isn't well controlled, there are a number of serious or life-threatening problems you may have, including:

  • Retinopathy. People with type 2 diabetes may already have eye problems related to diabetes. Over time, more and more people who initially do not have eye problems related to the disease will develop some form of eye problem. It is important to control not only blood sugar but also blood pressure and cholesterol to prevent eye disease from getting worse. Fortunately, the eye problems aren't bad in most people.
  • Kidney damage. The risk of kidney disease gets worse over time, meaning the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk. If not caught early, kidney damage can lead to kidney failure.
  • Poor blood circulation and nerve damage. Damage to the blood vessels can lead to a higher risk of stroke and heart attack as well as peripheral artery disease. Damage to nerves and hardening of the arteries leads to worse sensation and poor blood circulation in the feet. This can lead to more infections and a higher risk of skin ulcers, which significantly raise the risk of amputation. Damage to nerves may also lead to digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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