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Champion HHC Health Information Library

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Diabetes Type 2

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose is your main source of energy. It comes from the foods you eat. A hormone called insulin helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. If you have diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use insulin well. The glucose then stays in your blood and not enough goes into your cells.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. But you can take steps to manage your diabetes and try to prevent these health problems.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes may be caused by a combination of factors:

  • Being overweight or having obesity
  • Not being physically active
  • Genetics and family history

Type 2 diabetes usually starts with insulin resistance. This is a condition in which your cells don't respond normally to insulin. As a result, your body needs more insulin to help the glucose enter your cells. At first, your body makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. But over time, your body can't make enough insulin, and your blood glucose levels rise.

Who is at risk for type 2 diabetes?

You are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you

  • Are over age 45. Children, teenagers, and younger adults can get type 2 diabetes, but it is more common in middle-aged and older people.
  • Have prediabetes, which means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes
  • Had diabetes in pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are overweight or have obesity
  • Are Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Are not physically active
  • Have other conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or depression
  • Have low HDL (good) cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Have acanthosis nigricans - dark, thick, and velvety skin around your neck or armpits
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all. If you do have them, the symptoms develop slowly over several years. They might be so mild that you do not notice them. The symptoms can include

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Unexplained weight loss
How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?

Your health care provider will use blood tests to diagnose type 2 diabetes. The blood tests include

  • A1C test, which measures your average blood sugar level over the past 3 months
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, which measures your current blood sugar level. You need to fast (not eat or drink anything except water) for at least 8 hours before the test.
  • Random plasma glucose (RPG) test, which measures your current blood sugar level. This test is used when you have diabetes symptoms and the provider does not want to wait for you to fast before having the test.
What are the treatments for type 2 diabetes?

Treatment for type 2 diabetes involves managing your blood sugar levels. Many people are able to do this by living a healthy lifestyle. Some people may also need to take medicine.

  • A healthy lifestyle includes following a healthy eating plan and getting regular physical activity. You need to learn how to balance what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any.
  • Medicines for diabetes include oral medicines, insulin, and other injectable medicines. Over time, some people will need to take more than one type of medicine to control their diabetes.
  • You will need to check your blood sugar regularly. Your health care provider will tell you how often you need to do it.
  • It's also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels close to the targets your provider sets for you. Make sure to get your screening tests regularly.
Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

You can take steps to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight if you are overweight, eating fewer calories, and being more physically active. If you have a condition which raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, managing that condition may lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Prediabetes

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means that your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Too much glucose in your blood can damage your body over time.

If you have prediabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. But if you make some lifestyle changes now, you may be able to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

What causes prediabetes?

Prediabetes usually happens when your body has a problem with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. A problem with insulin could be

  • Insulin resistance, a condition in which the body can't use its insulin properly. It makes it hard for your cells to get glucose from your blood. This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
  • Your body can't make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy level

Researchers think that being overweight and not getting regular physical activity are major factors in causing prediabetes.

Who is at risk for prediabetes?

About 1 out of every 3 adults has prediabetes. It is more common in people who

  • Are overweight or have obesity
  • Are age 45 or older
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American
  • Are not physically active
  • Have health conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Have had gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy)
  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke
  • Have metabolic syndrome
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Most people don't know they have prediabetes because usually there are no symptoms.

Some people with prediabetes may have darkened skin in the armpit or on the back and sides of the neck. They may also have many small skin growths in those same areas.

How is prediabetes diagnosed?

There are a few different blood tests that can diagnose prediabetes. The most common ones are

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, which measures your blood sugar at a single point in time. You need to fast (not eat or drink) for at least 8 hours before the test. The results of the test are given in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter):
    • A normal level is 99 or below
    • Prediabetes is 100 to 125
    • Type 2 diabetes is 126 and above
  • A1C test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past 3 months. The results of an A1C test are given as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels have been.
    • A normal level is below 5.7%
    • Prediabetes is between 5.7 to 6.4%
    • Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5%
If I have prediabetes, will I get diabetes?

If you have prediabetes, you may be able to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes:

  • Losing weight, if you are overweight
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Following a healthy, reduced-calorie eating plan

In some cases, your health care provider may also recommend taking diabetes medicines.

Can prediabetes be prevented?

If you are at risk for prediabetes, those same lifestyle changes (losing weight, regular physical activity, and a healthy eating plan) may prevent you from getting it.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Asian American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from

  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors
  • Access to care
  • Cultural factors

On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect Asian Americans.

Black and African American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from

  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors
  • Access to care
  • Cultural factors

On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect Black and African Americans.

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia means high blood sugar or glucose. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose into your cells to give them energy. Hyperglycemia happens when your body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use it the right way.

People with diabetes can get hyperglycemia from not eating the right foods or not taking medicines correctly. Other problems that can raise blood sugar include infections, certain medicines, hormone imbalances, or severe illnesses.