| What is Type 2 Diabetes
| Basics Treatments Management
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Living with Diabetes
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes: Development
Diabetes develops when your body can no longer properly process blood sugar (glucose) out of your blood. Normally, your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin which helps cells turn blood sugar into fuel. But if your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your cells can’t use insulin correctly, your blood sugar levels rise.
Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors
Even though type 2 diabetes is often called adult-onset
diabetes, it can begin at any age and in any person. However, there are several
risk factors that might put you at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being physically inactive
- Family history (especially a parent or sibling with
- Native American, African-American, or Hispanic heritage
- Prior gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes
- Birth of a baby over nine pounds in weight
- High blood pressure or treatment for high blood pressure
- Low HDL or “good” cholesterol (below 35 milligrams per
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosis (a hormone imbalance
- Dark, velvety rash around the armpits or neck, called
- History of heart disease
Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or
cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes).
- Type 1 diabetes (formerly
called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5% to
10% of all people with diabetes.1
In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system destroys the cells that
release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin
production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar
(glucose), which they need to produce energy.
- Type 2 diabetes (formerly
called adult-onset or non–insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any
age, but most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood. But the
incidence of type 2 diabetes in children is rising. Type 2 diabetes
accounts for the vast majority of people with diabetes—90% to 95%. In
contrast to type 1 diabetes, insulin resistance is the main characteristic
of type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance refers to the body's inability to
respond properly to insulin. Resistance develops because of many factors,
including genetics, obesity, increasing age, and having high blood sugar
for a long time.
How are these diseases different?
between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood.
People often seek medical help because they are seriously ill from sudden
symptoms of high blood sugar.
The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis. Usually
the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of children
are being diagnosed with the disease.
Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) are
There are no episodes of low blood sugar level, unless the
person is taking insulin or certain oral diabetes medicines.
It cannot be prevented.
It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle,
including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising
How are they alike?
Both types of diabetes greatly increase a person's risk for a range of
serious complications. Although monitoring and management of the disease can
prevent complications, diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness and
kidney failure. It also continues to be a critical risk factor for heart
disease, stroke, and foot or leg amputations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2007. Atlanta: U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. Available online:
Type 2 Diabetes: Definitions
Here is your new vocabulary, in alphabetical order:
2 diabetes. It’s also called “adult-onset diabetes,” though
increasing numbers are children are now developing it. With this condition,
your body isn’t making enough insulin to control your blood sugar levels or
can’t use insulin effectively. Although some people have to take medication for
type 2 diabetes, many can control their blood sugar levels with changes
in diet and exercise.
- A1C. The A1C
test is the gold standard for tracking how well your blood sugar is
controlled. “The A1C blood test is a good indicator of your average
glucose over the past three months,” explains Vivian Fonseca, MD, chief of
endocrinology at Tulane University Health
in New Orleans.
You may also hear this referred to as the hemoglobin A1C test or the
glycohemoglobin test. You will have to take this test twice a year.
- Beta cells. These
insulin-making cells are found in the pancreas, the organ in your body
that produces insulin.
- Carbohydrates. These
are the primary sources of fuel used by your body to make blood sugar.
Carbohydrates are sugars or starches found in foods such as rice, pasta,
potatoes, and bread.
diabetes. This is a type of diabetes that is diagnosed during
pregnancy and usually goes away after the birth (although it must be
controlled during the pregnancy.) Women who have had gestational diabetes
are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, as are their children.
- Glucose. It’s
just another word for the sugar in your blood that provides fuel for your
cells. High levels of blood glucose — or blood sugar — are a sign of type
- Hyperglycemia. Another
name for high blood sugar. High blood sugar occurs when your blood sugar
(or blood glucose) levels are above normal.
- Hypertension. Another
name for high blood pressure.
- Hypoglycemia. This
is low blood sugar (or blood glucose); it occurs when your blood sugar
levels drop below normal and your body, because of your diabetes, can’t
get back to normal blood sugar levels. This is one of the most commonly
misunderstood facts of living with type 2 diabetes, says Paul Robertson,
MD, president of medicine and science, American Diabetes Association, and
professor of medicine and pharmacology at the University of Washington in
Seattle: Hypoglycemia is actually very rare, except as a side effect of
some type 2 diabetes treatments. However, your friends and family may
worry unduly about your risk of low blood sugar.
- Insulin. Insulin
is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. It helps your body turn blood
glucose into fuel. If your body doesn’t make enough or doesn’t use it
efficiently, you develop insulin resistance and then diabetes. Some people
with diabetes take
insulin to make up for what their body doesn’t produce.
- Microalbumin. This
protein’s presence in your urine may indicate diabetes-related kidney
- Neuropathy. Neuropathy
can be brought on by diabetes. Over time, out-of-control high blood sugar
can cause damage to your nervous system, leading to diabetic neuropathy, a
weakness or painful sensation in the nerves damaged by diabetes. It can
affect your hands, feet, and other organs.
- Pancreas. This
body organ produces insulin.
- Retinopathy. Over
time, high blood sugar can affect the blood flow to your eyes, which can
cause the retina to deteriorate, leading to blindness.
- Type 1 diabetes. A
type of diabetes that usually begins at birth or in childhood. With this
condition, the person’s pancreas does not make enough insulin to manage
blood glucose. This is also called “insulin-dependent diabetes.” People
with type 1 diabetes must use insulin to treat their condition.