Diabetes | Type 2 Diabetes Overview Skip to Main Content

Health Library

Health Topics

Type 2 Diabetes Overview

Do you know what type 2 diabetes is — and whether you are at risk?

doctor talking to an older female patient

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. With type 2, the body doesn't use insulin properly. Over time, the body stops making enough insulin to control your blood sugar. Insulin is made in the pancreas and moves blood sugar from the blood into cells. Without this process, too much sugar stays in the blood. Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to heart or kidney disease, vision loss or blindness, nerve damage and other problems.

Risk factors of type 2 diabetes

Lifestyle and genetic traits put people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Some of those factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being 45 or older
  • Having a close family member (parent or sibling) with diabetes
  • Being physically inactive
  • Being African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian-American or a Pacific Islander
  • Having delivered a baby who weighed 9 pounds or more, or having a history of diabetes during pregnancy
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having a low level of HDL cholesterol
  • Having a high level of triglycerides
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Having a history of heart disease or stroke

Should you get tested?

Some people with type 2 diabetes do not have symptoms. But, if you have any of the risk factors — and especially if you are overweight — ask your doctor if you should be screened.

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Talk with your doctor if you have these diabetes symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss

Other symptoms may include feeling tired, blurred vision, numb hands or feet, or slow-healing sores.

Managing diabetes

Eating healthy meals, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and taking medications as ordered by your doctor can help take care of your diabetes. Seeing your doctor regularly is also important in managing your diabetes. A diabetes care team can help keep you healthy, so you can lead a healthy lifestyle. This team typically includes a primary care doctor, eye doctor, foot doctor, nurse, dietitian and other specialists to manage your heart risk and other conditions.

By Susan G. Warner, Contributing Writer


American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes–2019. Accessed February 13, 2019.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes Tests & Diagnosis. Updated Nov. 2016. Accessed February 13, 2019.
American Diabetes Association. Type 2. Accessed February 13, 2019.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes. Accessed February 13, 2019.

Updated February 13, 2019