About Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which a person doesn’t make enough insulin and/or the insulin that the body makes doesn’t work the way that it should.
  • The body may also keep making glucose, even though it doesn’t need it. This causes the blood glucose level to become too high, which is known as hyperglycemia.

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  • More than 30 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, and 90-95% have type 2 diabetes. If current trends continue, about one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050. Type 2 diabetes develops due to both genetics and environmental factors. Some people are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others, including:

    • Those age 45 and older
    • Those with a family history of diabetes
    • Those who are overweight
    • Those who do not exercise regularly
    • Those with low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure
    • Certain racial and ethnic groups (e.g., African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans)
    • Women who had gestational diabetes

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    Below are some of the common symptoms associated with diabetes.



    People should contact their doctor if they experience any of these symptoms. However, because some people may have type 2 diabetes without any symptoms, it’s important to get regular blood tests, especially if they’re at a higher risk for developing diabetes.

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    People with diabetes are at risk for many serious health problems over time, including:



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    People with type 2 diabetes can help reduce their risk of serious complications over time, such as heart disease and stroke, by working with their doctor to set individual goals to help manage the ABCs of diabetes. Click icons to learn more.

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    By working with your doctor to keep your blood glucose under control and to set and attain your A1C goal, as well as goals for blood pressure and cholesterol, you may be able to help lower your risk of developing other health problems or complications over time. You can help control your blood glucose levels by:


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    Ask your doctor what the right A1C goal is for you. Work with your doctor to come up with an individualized diabetes management plan, which may include:

    • Diet
    • Exercise
    • Medicine (if prescribed by your doctor)

    Be sure to talk about how often you should check your blood glucose and your A1C. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of both high and low blood glucose, and talk to your doctor about how to help reduce your risk. You will need to take a blood test to know your A1C, which tells you two things:

    • The average amount of glucose in your blood over the past two to three months.
    • How close or far you are from your A1C goal.

    It’s also important to work with your doctor to come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for you, based on your needs and goals. Everyone has his or her own preferences, even when it comes to a diabetes treatment plan. Being vocal about your preferences is important, so be sure to ask questions and speak up if you believe that something isn’t working for you. Here are some questions to help start the conversation:

    • What is my A1C and what should my goal be?
    • How often should I self-test my blood glucose at home?
    • What are the signs and symptoms of high and low blood glucose?
    • What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
    • Do I need to make any changes to my diabetes management plan?
    • What are the benefits and possible side effects of the medicine(s) I’m taking?
    • What are the possible causes of high and low blood glucose?

    Remember that individual A1C goals may be higher or lower, but the general recommended A1C goal for many adults with diabetes is less than 7 percent. Additionally, diabetes is a progressive disease and sometimes requires changes in medicine. If your doctor decides it is time to change your medicine, it may not mean that you haven’t tried hard enough – many people need to adjust their treatment plans over time to help them reach their blood glucose goals.

    Take the next step and check out our tips to help you tackle some common type 2 diabetes challenges head on.

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