Skip to main content

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body is producing insufficient insulin and/or it becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin. This results in high levels of glucose in your blood (blood sugar) which, over time, can damage your body.

The cause of type 2 diabetes is often (but not always) linked to lifestyle. If you have a family member with diabetes you are more likely to develop it yourself. However the risk of diabetes is greatly increased with lifestyle factors such as; being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, low physical activity, poor diet and the classic ‘apple shape’ body where fat is carried around the waist.

When does type 2 occur?

Of all the people with diabetes it is estimated about 90% of them have type 2. Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in adulthood, and is more likely to develop in certain groups of people, for example;

  • Those with diabetes in the family
  • Those with high blood pressure
  • Those who are overweight
  • Those diagnosed as having pre-diabetes - when the glucose (sugar) in your blood is higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Because type 2 is often (but not always) diagnosed later in life the symptoms are sometimes dismissed as ‘getting older’. If you have any concerns talk to your doctor, as a simple test will show if you have type 2 diabetes.

  • Being excessively thirsty
  • Passing more urine
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Itching and skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Gradually putting on weight
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps

 How can I manage my type 2 diabetes?

Your doctor will advise you on what treatment is best for you, but whatever this may be, healthy food choices and staying active is important. Losing weight helps your body use insulin better.

You may also have to take medication. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and although you may be able to manage your blood glucose levels in the healthy range by eating healthy food and having regular exercise for a number of years, most people come to need tablets and/or insulin as well as their food and exercise plan.

Check out Helping Yourself for ways to manage your diabetes.