Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot produce enough insulin or properly use the insulin it makes. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood, and if you have type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in your blood rather than being used for energy. Type 2 diabetes can be managed, but if untreated or not properly managed, it can have serious health complications, including:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin and generally begins in childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or properly use the insulin it makes and generally occurs in adulthood. Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy and can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
When many lifestyle factors start affecting the function of your pancreas, this can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These lifestyle factors include being overweight, having high blood pressure, and having high cholesterol. Genetic factors also contribute to having diabetes; people with a family history of the disease have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
BMI is a measure of body fat based on a formula that calculates the ratio of your height and weight. It can tell you if your body weight is in the overweight or obese category. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Common symptoms of diabetes include:
Yes, type 2 diabetes often develops in middle age over a period of months to years, and the symptoms may be non-existent or very mild; some people may just feel that they are getting “old.”
Type 2 diabetes can be managed, but if untreated or not properly managed, it can have serious health complications, including:
Sometimes the development of type 2 diabetes can be slowed down or prevented by making lifestyle changes, especially through modest weight loss (about 5% if you are overweight) and by increasing physical activity; however, not everyone will avoid developing diabetes. A lot also depends on family history and other factors, but positive lifestyle habits will decrease the need for medication and increase quality of life. Other positive lifestyle habits include:
To view the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC)’s screening recommendations for adults without symptoms of diabetes, please consult our Type 2 Diabetes Risk Calculator for Patients. Your risk level is calculated based upon factors such as:
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that affects the whole body and reduces quality of life through immediate symptoms like fatigue, weight changes, and excess thirst. It also increases the risk of complications such as:
However, it has been demonstrated that people who manage and control their diabetes in its early stages can minimize the risk of these complications.
Early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes allows for early management with diet, exercise, and medication (if necessary) that can delay the onset or reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications.
Some people may be anxious about being tested for type 2 diabetes, and people who are diagnosed may experience anxiety related to their diagnosis.
The CTFPHC selected the A1C test as the preferred screening test because the small blood sample needed can be taken at any time of the day and it is as accurate as other tests. The A1C test is a simple lab test that reflects your average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. A small blood sample to check your A1C can be taken at any time of the day. The test is commonly used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to assess how those already diagnosed with diabetes are managing the disease. You can eat and drink normally prior to the test, as it does not require fasting. Acceptable alternative tests are the fasting glucose measurement and the glucose tolerance test.
Type 2 diabetes can be treated with:
The type of treatment you engage in depends on your blood glucose levels. All people with type 2 diabetes should follow a healthy lifestyle. Some may require oral medication as well to better control their blood glucose levels. Insulin is prescribed to patients when their type 2 diabetes becomes more severe.
No, but it can be managed with a healthy lifestyle and medication.
Well-designed, longterm studies have conclusively shown that uncontrolled diabetes places people at very high risk for health complications, while controlled diabetes is protective.