Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus; NIDDM; Adult-Onset Diabetes Mellitus; Diabetes Mellitus Type 2; "Stable" Diabetes; Insulin-Resistant Diabetes; Diabetes, Type 2)
by Debra Wood, RN
Type 2 diabetes is when the body is resistant to high insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin helps your body convert food into energy. Without insulin, glucose (sugar) from the food you eat cannot enter cells. This causes glucose to build up in the blood. Meanwhile, your body tissues are starved for energy. However, in type 2 diabetes, there is plenty of insulin but the cells are resistant to its action.
Long-term, high blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and other tissues.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.* Causes
Two conditions contribute to type 2 diabetes:
These factors increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Tell your doctor if you have these risk factors:
A study reported that having a high intake of certain foods (like red meat, low-fiber bread, eggs, and cheese) can put you at risk for diabetes.*11 Talk to your doctor about a diet that is right for you.* Symptoms
You may not have symptoms for years if you have type 2 diabetes. Symptoms may be due to either high blood sugar or diabetic complications. These symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical and family history, and perform a physical exam.
Diagnosis is based on the results of blood tests and other criteria, including:
Diabetes treatment aims to maintain blood sugar at levels as close to normal as possible. Regular medical care is important for preventing or delaying complications.Diet
If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about a reasonable weight goal and a safe diet program.
Group education may help people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes reach their goals in losing weight and quitting smoking. * 8 This is important because losing weight helps your body respond better to insulin. Also, quitting smoking can decrease your chance of getting many diseases, including heart disease, which is common in people with diabetes.Exercise
Physical activity helps the body use blood sugar. It will also help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, and lower the levels of fat in your blood. Follow your doctor's advice for activity levels and restrictions. Exercise was found to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.* 2 Also, patients who received brief counseling during their regular doctor's appointments didn't have a difference in weight loss, but did have an increase in physical activity. * 9 Exercising more can help you improve glucose control and reduce your risk for heart disease.Oral Medication
Medications taken by mouth may be used to lower blood sugar:
Insulin by injection supplement the insulin made by the body. Insulin therapy is needed when blood sugar levels are not kept low enough with diet, exercise, and medications.Blood Sugar Testing
Checking blood sugar levels during the day helps you keep track of the amount of glucose in your blood. This also determines if the dosage or type of antidiabetic treatment needs to be adjusted. Testing is easy with a blood glucose monitor. Keeping track of blood glucose levels is important if you take insulin.
However, many patients with type 2 diabetes can use another test called glycosylated hemoglobin or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). This is done in the doctor's office. Unlike blood sugar levels, HbA1c has the advantage of measuring average blood glucose levels over the previous three-month period. This shows the effectiveness of diabetes management over the long-term. Doctors advise that most diabetics keep their HbA1c levels below 7%.
A study suggests that regular blood sugar testing may not be needed in patients with type 2 diabetes whose condition is under reasonably good control without insulin. * 4 However, talk with your doctor before stopping blood sugar monitoring.Alternative Therapies
Researchers studied vitamin E supplementation in a particular group of patients—those with type 2 diabetes mellitus and a certain genotype (called Haptoglobin 2-2). Vitamin E was associated with a decrease in the rates of cardiovascular events. *5* Prevention
Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. In a trial of patients who were overweight and had prediabetes, lifestyle changes reduced the incidence of diabetes for up to seven years. * 1
Lifestyle changes seem to be more effective than medications in those with glucose intolerance. But ask your doctor if taking a drug, such as metformin or rosiglitazone, may reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Last reviewed March 2008 by David Juan, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.