What causes type 2 diabetes?
The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. However, there does appear to be a genetic factor that causes it to run in families.
Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed if you eliminate or reduce risk factors, particularly by losing weight and increasing exercise.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Age – People age 45 or older are at higher risk for diabetes.
- Family history of diabetes
- Being overweight
- Not exercising regularly
- Race and ethnicity – Being a member of certain racial and ethnic groups increases the risk for type 2 diabetes. African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians are more prone to develop type 2 diabetes than white Americans.
- History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- A low level HDL (high-density lipoprotein – the "good cholesterol")
- A high triglyceride level
Type 2 diabetes symptoms
Type 2 diabetes primarily occurs in middle age or later, but it can appear at any age. Most of the time patients do not know they have type 2 diabetes and it is diagnosed only by a blood test. Signs and symptoms of very high blood sugar levels include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy)
- Sores that don’t heal well
Often, type 2 diabetes can be controlled through losing weight, improved nutrition and exercise alone. However, in some cases, these measures are not enough and either oral or injected medications and/or insulin must be used.