November 10, 2021

Type 2 Diabetes | Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects blood sugar levels in your body. Learn more about type 2 diabetes symptoms, causes, risk factors, and prevention.

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Home / Living with Diabetes / Type 2 Diabetes | Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Today, type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in the world. According to the CDC, over 34 million people in the United States are living with diabetes – that is, about one in every 10 Americans. An estimated 90 to 95 percent of these people have type 2 diabetes. As a result, it’s essential to know everything you can about this disorder.

Do you have a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, or do you suspect you or a loved one may have this condition? If so, US MED is here to help. Read on for our complete overview of type 2 diabetes’ telltale signs, how to treat this disease, and more.


At its core, type 2 diabetes involves difficulties in the body’s ability to use glucose as a fuel source. When people develop this condition, their pancreas cannot produce enough insulin – that is, the hormone that helps glucose enter individual cells. Meanwhile, this problem is made worse by a reduced response to insulin in the cells that need it.

Previously, type 2 diabetes was known as “adult-onset diabetes” compared to type 1 diabetes, which is diagnosed more often in young people. However, both forms of diabetes can manifest at any stage of life. While type 2 diabetes is found most often in older adults, increasing obesity rates in the younger population have increased its prevalence in this age group.

As it is a chronic condition, there is no known cure for type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can eventually lead to problems for the immune, circulatory, and nervous systems. However, lifestyle changes and medications can help people with type 2 diabetes keep this disorder under control.


While some of the symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes are hard to miss, that’s not the case for all of them. As the signs of this disorder can develop gradually, you could even have this disease and not be aware of it.

Still, there are some type 2 diabetes symptoms you should keep an eye out for:

  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Abnormally frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Tingling or numbness in extremities
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • Fatigue
  • Regular infections
  • Darker-than-normal skin, especially in the neck and armpits


When to See a Doctor

The possibility of type 2 diabetes isn’t something you can afford to ignore. If and when you notice any of these symptoms, contact a healthcare professional.


As we mentioned above, two primary factors play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. First of all, the pancreas loses the capability to make enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. At the same time, muscle, fat, and liver cells grow increasingly resistant to insulin, which means they cannot get enough glucose.

Are you wondering why these factors come into play? Unfortunately, the reason that this happens is still unknown. We know that excessive weight and physical inactivity play a role – because of that, getting more exercise and eating right goes a long way towards preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. Other factors behind the condition include genetics and metabolic syndrome.

How Insulin Works

The pancreas produces the hormone called “insulin,” a gland located below and behind the stomach. This hormone plays a crucial role in helping the body use glucose.

When glucose levels in the bloodstream are high enough, the pancreas typically begins secreting insulin. That insulin also goes into the bloodstream; there, it helps glucose enter cells. As a result of this movement, the glucose level in the bloodstream drops, and the pancreas reduces its insulin output.

The Role of Glucose

Glucose is a type of sugar used to power cells in various bodily tissues, including muscles. This sugar comes from both food and the human liver.

Glucose in the bloodstream can enter cells thanks to the presence of insulin. Your liver also stores and produces glucose. When your blood sugar levels are low, glycogen stored in the liver is broken down into glucose to keep this level in range.

However, type 2 diabetes throws a wrench into this process. Since glucose can’t move into cells like it’s supposed to, this sugar builds up in the bloodstream instead. In response, the pancreas releases more insulin, but its insulin-producing cells eventually burn out.

Risk Factors

No small number of factors can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Of course, none of the factors listed here indicate you have a 100-percent chance of encountering this condition. Still, the more factors apply to you, the higher your chances of developing diabetes.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ve separated prominent type 2 diabetes risk factors into three categories.

Personal Identity

  • Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Belonging to any of these ethnicity groups: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, or Pacific Islander American
  • Being 45 years old or older

Health and Medical Conditions

  • Prediabetes
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Heart/blood vessel disease
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure, whether it’s being treated or not
  • Low levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol
  • High triglycerides
  • Giving birth to a baby with a weight of more than 9 pounds
  • Having gestational diabetes while pregnant
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Everyday Lifestyle

  • Limited or no physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Inadequate or excessive sleep


While it’s dangerous enough on its own, type 2 diabetes is associated with a long list of possible complications. This disease affects many parts of your body, and many of its risk factors have links to other chronic diseases. By taking steps to manage diabetes, you can also lower your risk of experiencing complications.

Some notable complications of type 2 diabetes include:


  • Neuropathy. High blood sugar levels can eventually damage or destroy nerves. In the limbs, this can lead to tingling, numbness, or a complete loss of feeling. These sensations usually start at the tips of the fingers and toes before progressing upward.


  • Heart and blood vessel disease. If you have diabetes, you also have an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, narrowing blood vessels, and high blood pressure.


  • Eye problems. Diseases like cataracts and glaucoma have links to diabetes. Additionally, diabetes can cause blindness by damaging the retina’s blood vessels.


  • Dementia. Type 2 diabetes may come with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases resulting in dementia. Out-of-control blood sugar levels may increase the pace at which cognitive function declines.


Prevention and Treatment

Unlike type 1 diabetes, changing your lifestyle can help you avoid type 2 diabetes – even if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes. These lifestyle changes may let you delay or reverse the onset of diabetes:


  • Getting more physical activity. Emphasize getting 150 minutes of moderate to high physical activity a week at minimum. This activity can include biking, swimming, running, or walking briskly.


  • Improving your diet. The ideal diabetes diet should include balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats. Focus on getting enough fiber, and avoid foods high in calories and unhealthy fats.


  • Not sitting still. Sitting for long periods can heighten your diabetes risk. Every 30 minutes, get up and move around for a little while.


  • Focusing on weight loss. Following these steps can help you lose weight and avoid gaining it back. By doing so, you can help slow down prediabetes’ progression to type 2 diabetes.


Even if you’ve been diagnosed with full-blown type 2 diabetes, taking steps like those listed above can help you manage this condition. For some people, lifestyle changes are so effective that they don’t need medication. Still, various drugs are commonly put to use to treat type 2 diabetes. Some of these drugs are metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, and insulin.

Know How To Combat Type 2 Diabetes

Have you had a type 2 diabetes diagnosis for years, or have you just noticed some symptoms associated with this condition? Either way, you can’t start dealing with it until you know what to do. We hope this article could help you or others in your life prevent or manage type 2 diabetes.

If you do have type 2 diabetes, you’ll also need a reliable source of diabetes supplies. US MED is America’s top diabetes supply company – we provide 90 days of supplies in each order, and we’ve served more than a million satisfied customers since 1996. Our products include CGM systems, diabetes testing supplies, and insulin pumps. Get started with US MED today!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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