Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes in the United States. Most people with type 2 diabetes become insulin resistant, which means the body produces insulin but doesn't use it properly to help transfer glucose, or blood sugar, from the blood into the cells. This causes blood sugar to rise and can lead to a number of complications.
Type 2 diabetes was formerly called "adult-onset diabetes" because it typically develops in adulthood.
Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented, but not always. Risk factors for the disease include a family history of diabetes, racial or ethnic background, old age, obesity and inactivity, among others. Over time, certain lifestyle factors such as obesity and inactivity can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately to developing type 2 diabetes.
Sometimes people with type 2 diabetes have few symptoms early on. But some warning signs to look for include unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger or thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, numbness in the hands or feet, dry skin, frequent infections and sores that heal slowly. Anyone who begins to experience any of these symptoms should be checked by a doctor. That's because diabetes can be diagnosed with simple blood tests, but left untreated, it can over time lead to serious and life-threatening complications. These can include eye and foot problems, stroke and heart disease, among others.
People with type 2 diabetes often have to check their blood sugar frequently to make sure it is under control. This is done with a tool called a blood glucose monitor. Healthy eating and regular exercise also play a critical role in managing type 2 diabetes. Also, medications are often necessary to help with regulating blood sugar, and supplemental insulin may be needed in some instances as well.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases