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Type 2 Diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there is a high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.

An easy way to get more exercise is:The correct answer is all of the above. When it comes to being more active, every movement counts. Wear a pedometer and make it a goal to take 10,000 steps a day. Get up and stretch when you're talking on the phone, walk over to talk with coworkers instead of sending email, and always take the stairs.Things you should do before starting an exercise program are:The correct answer is all of the above. Getting more exercise is a great idea to manage your type 2 diabetes. First have your health care provider check out your heart, eyes, feet, and blood sugar. Ask about when you need to check your blood sugar when you exercise.If you're overweight, losing just a few pounds can help improve your diabetes.The correct answer is true. If you're overweight, losing about 7% of your total body weight can help lower your risk for heart disease. If you weigh 200 pounds, that's only 14 pounds. Losing weight also may make it easier to control your blood sugar. Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator about simple changes that can help you lose weight.All carbohydrates, including sugars and starches, will raise blood sugar.The correct answer is true. All carbohydrates raise blood sugar, so you should keep track of how many you eat every day. The best choices come from beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugary and processed foods. Ask your diabetes educator how to track the carbs you eat every day.The best source of protein for someone is diabetes is:The correct answer is fish. Eating at least two servings of fish a week may improve triglycerides and may also help lower the risks for heart problems. Choose oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Skinless chicken and turkey, soy, and lean cuts of meat are also healthy choices.People with type 2 diabetes don't need to check their blood sugar at home.The correct answer is false. Checking your blood sugar levels at home will tell you how well you are managing your diabetes. Most people with type 2 diabetes only need to check their blood sugar once or twice a day. If your blood sugar levels are under control, you may only to check them a few times a week.Which food contains the healthiest fats?The correct answer is A and B. Avocados, nuts, and olive, canola, and peanut oils contain monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart. Omega-3 fats found in fish, shellfish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are also heart healthy. These should be your first choice for fats. If buying margarine, look for trans-fat free brands.When you check your feet, you should look for:The correct answer is all of the above. Check your feet every day. Inspect the top, sides, soles, heels, and between the toes. Call your doctor or podiatrist right way about any foot problems. Don't try to treat them yourself first. Even small sores or blisters can become big problems if infection develops or they don't heal.Which type of footwear should a person with diabetes avoid?The correct answer is A, B, and C. Flip flops leave your feet exposed to possible cuts and bruises. High heels and socks with seams or holes can cause pressure points on your feet. Sneakers or any close-toed, comfortable shoes that fit well are the best choice to protect your feet.Which will treat low blood sugar?The correct answer is all of the above. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, take 15 grams of carbohydrate right away -- but no more than this. The examples above contain 15 grams. If you don't feel better in 15 minutes, and your blood sugar stays low, take another 15 grams. If that doesn't work, call your doctor right away.
Alternative Names:

Noninsulin-dependent diabetes; Diabetes - type 2; Adult-onset diabetes


People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms at first. They may not have symptoms for many years.

Early symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • Bladder, kidney, skin, or other infections that are more frequent or heal slowly
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

The first symptom may also be:

Exams and Tests:

Your doctor may suspect that you have diabetes if your blood sugar level is higher than 200 mg/dL. To confirm the diagnosis, one or more of the following tests must be done.

Diabetes blood tests:

Diabetes screening is recommended for:

  • Overweight children who have other risk factors for diabetes, starting at age 10 and repeated every 2 years
  • Overweight adults (BMI of 25 or higher) who have other risk factors
  • Adults starting at age 45 every 3 years, or at a younger age if the person has risk factors 

If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you need to work closely with your doctor. You will likely need to see your doctor every 3 months. At these visits, you can expect your doctor to:

  • Check your blood pressure
  • Check the skin and bones on your feet and legs
  • Check if your feet are becoming numb
  • Examine the back part of the eye with a special lighted instrument

The following tests will help you and your doctor monitor your diabetes and prevent problems.

  • Check the skin and bones on your feet and legs.
  • Check if your feet are getting numb (diabetic nerve disease).
  • Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year (blood pressure goals should be 140/80 mmHg or lower).
  • Have your A1C test every 6 months if your diabetes is well controlled. Have the test every 3 months if your diabetes is not well controlled.
  • Have your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked yearly.
  • Get tests once a year to make sure your kidneys are working well (microalbuminuria and serum creatinine).
  • Visit your eye doctor at least once a year, or more often if you have signs of diabetic eye disease.
  • See the dentist every 6 months for a thorough dental cleaning and exam. Make sure your dentist and hygienist know that you have diabetes.
Support Groups:

There are many diabetes resources that can help you understand more about type 2 diabetes. You can also learn ways to manage your condition so you can live well with diabetes.

Outlook (Prognosis):

Diabetes is a lifelong disease and there is no cure.

Some people with type 2 diabetes no longer need medicine if they lose weight and become more active. When they reach their ideal weight, their body's own insulin and a healthy diet can control their blood sugar level.

Possible Complications:

After many years, diabetes can lead to serious problems:

  • You could have eye problems, including trouble seeing (especially at night), and light sensitivity. You could become blind.
  • Your feet and skin can develop sores and infections. After a long time, your foot or leg may need to be amputated. Infection can also cause pain and itching in other parts of the body.
  • Diabetes may make it harder to control your blood pressure and cholesterol. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and other problems. It can become harder for blood to flow to your legs and feet.
  • Nerves in your body can get damaged, causing pain, tingling, and numbness.
  • Because of nerve damage, you could have problems digesting the food you eat. You could feel weakness or have trouble going to the bathroom. Nerve damage can make it harder for men to have an erection.
  • High blood sugar and other problems can lead to kidney damage. Your kidneys may not work as well as they used to. They may even stop working so that you need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

You can help prevent type 2 diabetes by staying at a healthy body weight. You can get to a healthy weight by eating healthy foods, controlling your portion sizes, and leading an active lifestyle.


American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2014. Diabetes Care. 2014;37:S14-S80.

Buse JB, Polonsky KS, Burant C. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011;chap 31.

Pories WJ, Mehaffy JH, Staton KM. The surgical treatment of type two diabetes mellitus. Surg Clin North Am. 2011;91:821-836.

Stone NJ, Robinson JG, Lichtenstein AH, et al. Treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk in adults: synopsis of the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association cholesterol guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160:339-43.

Review Date: 8/5/2014
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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