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Type 2 Diabetes

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Previously known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult onset, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes accounting for 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body either resists the effects of insulin (a hormone that regulates sugar/glucose), or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.

Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Certain risk factors increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They include:

  • Weight – Being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes
  • Age –Typically those individuals over 45 are at higher risk
  • Family History – The risk is increased if any parents or siblings have type 2 diabetes
  • Physical Inactivity – The less active one (less than 3 times per week) is the greater the risk.
  • Gestational Diabetes – If while pregnant there was a diagnosis of gestations diabetes or if a baby was birthed weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • Race – Individuals of certain races including African American, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indian, Pacific Islanders and Asian American are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Blood Pressure - Having high blood pressure measuring 140/90 mmHg or higher.
  • Cholesterol – Having a high total cholesterol (above 200 mg/dL), or a high triglyceride level (above 250 mg/dL) or higher, pleases individuals at a right risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Tobacco – Tobacco user place themselves at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

Do I Have Type 2 Diabetes?

The following symptoms of type 2 diabetes are typical. However, some individuals with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed, so it is best to get tested.

Look for these common symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry Vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet

If any of the above symptoms are occurring, is it best to follow up with a Primary Care Physician to confirm a diagnosis.  According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed through one of the following tests:

1. A hemoglobin A1c (A1c) – Measures average blood glucose for the past 3 months.

  • Diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of greater than or equal to 6.5%

2. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) – Measures fasting blood sugar/glucose levels after not having anything to eat or drink for at least 8 hours. 

  • Diabetes is diagnosed at a FPG level of greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl.

3. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) – Measures blood glucose levels before and 2 hours after the consumption of a special sweet drink.

  • Diabetes is diagnosed at a 2 hour blood glucose level of greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl – 199mg/dl.

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decreases the risk of developing the complications of type 2 diabetes. Take the Risk Test to find out if you are at increased risk for having type 2 diabetes.

What are the Complications of Undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can be easily ignored as there are limited effects on an individual’s outward appearance, however, type 2 diabetes does affect many major organs.  If neglected type 2 diabetes can impact the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Getting diagnosed if you think you have diabetes and controlling your blood sugar levels if you already have diabetes can help prevent these potential complications:

  • Eye/retina damage
  • Foot/nerve damage
  • Hearing impairment
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy)
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, angina)

How Can I Manage My Type 2 Diabetes?

The management of type 2 diabetes takes a team based approach between the physician, dietitian, nurse, and other medical staff, with the patient serving as the team coach. While the team is there to help, the day-to-day management is up to the patient.

According to the Mayo Clinic, care/management will include:

  • Healthy Eating
    • It is important to center eating around wholesome fruits, vegetables lean meats,  and whole grains, while limiting refined carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, rice cereals, etc.), and sweets.
    • Check with a registered dietitian for additional help on meal planning
  • Physical Activity
    • Everyone needs regular aerobic exercise, and individuals with type 2 diabetes are not an exception. Patients should check with their primary care physician before starting an exercise program. Then choose an activity that they enjoy and try to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise for at least 5 days of the week. If physical activity is not something that a patient is accustomed to, start slow and gradually build up.
    • Also remember that physical activity lowers blood glucose/sugar, so make sure to check blood glucose/sugar level before any activity.
  • Monitoring Blood Glucose/Sugar
    • Depending on the management plan, checking and recording blood glucose/sugar may be necessary to determine glucose/sugar levels, keeping in mind that blood glucose/sugar levels can be unpredictable.  A physician will recommend the frequency of monitoring, as glucose/sugar levels change in response to food, exercise, alcohol, illness and medication.
  • Medication Management
    • Some individuals who have type 2 diabetes can achieve their target blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, but many may also need diabetes medications or insulin. The decision about a patient’s medication depends on many factors but it is best to consult with a physician and then continue to stick to the determined medication plan, until otherwise determined.
  • Diabetes Education
    • Living with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis is not easy, but becoming educated on the disease does help with overall disease management. Around Ohio there are many community resources looking to help educate individuals on type 2 diabetes. For information on those program, check out:

The Ohio Department of Aging/Area Agency on Aging – Healthy U: Diabetes
American Diabetes Association – Recognized Diabetes Education Programs
American Association of Diabetes Educators – Diabetes Self Management Education

Want to Know More?

For additional information on type 2 diabetes check out the following resources:

For additional information on the Diabetes Self Management Education Programs, and to find a program closest to you check out of following resources:


Last Reviewed 10/17/2014