What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin adequately. This is called insulin resistance. When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose (sugar) can't get into the body's cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body's cells are not able to function properly. Other problems associated with the buildup of glucose in the blood include:
Dehydration. The buildup of sugar in the blood can cause an increase in urination. When the kidneys lose the glucose through the urine, a large amount of water is also lost, causing dehydration.
Diabetic Coma (Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma) . When a person with type 2 diabetes becomes severely dehydrated and is not able to drink enough fluids to make up for the fluid losses, they may develop this life-threatening complication.
Damage to the body. Over time, the high glucose levels in the blood may damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart and predispose a person to atherosclerosis (hardening) of the large arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke.
Type 2 Diabetes in Children
More and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Find out about type 2 diabetes symptoms in children, the diagnosis, and the treatment in WebMD's article on type 2 diabetes in childhood. If your child is at risk for childhood diabetes, it’s important to learn specific self-care tips to help prevent diabetes.
Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?
Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. However, those at highest risk for the disease are those who are obese or overweight, women who have had gestational diabetes, people with family members who have type 2 diabetes and people who have metabolic syndrome (a cluster of problems that include high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low good 'HDL' cholesterol and a high bad 'LDL' cholesterol, and high blood pressure). In addition, older people are more susceptible to developing the disease since aging makes the body less tolerant of sugars.
Although it is more common than type 1 diabetes, the causes of type 2 diabetes are less well understood. It is likely caused by multiple factors and not a single problem.
Type 2 diabetes can run in families, but the exact nature of how it's inherited or the identity of a single genetic factor is not known.
What Are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes vary from person to person but may include:
Increased hunger (especially after eating).
Nausea and occasionally vomiting.
Fatigue (weak, tired feeling).
Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet.
Frequent infections of the skin, urinary tract or vagina.
Rarely, a person may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after presenting to the hospital in a diabetic coma.
How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?
To diagnose type 2 diabetes, your health care provider will first check for abnormalities in your blood (high blood glucose level) during a random fasting blood test or through a screening test known as the 2 hour glucose tolerance test. In addition, he or she may look for glucose or ketone bodies in your urine.
Type 2 diabetes testing includes a fasting plasma glucose test or a casual plasma glucose test. You will also need to check your blood sugar levels regularly.