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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a disorder that can result in high levels of glucose (blood sugar). In addition to the pancreas not being able to make enough insulin, the insulin that is made is not working effectively.

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it means your body can’t make enough insulin or use it effectively. Without adequate production or use of insulin, your body can’t move glucose (blood sugar) into the cells. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that has no known cure, but can be controlled with diet, exercise and medications including insulin. It is the most common type of diabetes and affects more than 22 million Americans.

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
  • Fatigue
  • 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.

Experiencing symptoms of diabetes?

Call your primary care provider to be evaluated as soon as possible.

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