What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitusis) is the most common form of diabetes. It is a metabolic disorder resulting in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the cells in the body are not responding to normal levels of insulin.

The onset of Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in adulthood, but in recent years the number of children developing Type 2 diabetes has risen. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors leading to an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes include living a sedentary lifestyle, having poor eating habits, having other health problems (like acromegaly, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, pheochromocytoma), and taking certain medications (like glucocorticoids, thiazides, beta blockers, atypical antipsychotics, and statins).

Type 2 diabetes generally develops gradually and many people have no symptoms during their first few years. Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed during routine testing. When symptoms do occur, they frequently include polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyphagia (excessive hunger), polyuria (excessive urination), weight loss, fatigue, blurry vision, tingling in the feet and hands, and recurrent vaginal infections.

Initial treatment for Type 2 diabetes generally includes modifying the diet and increasing exercise. If adequate control is not achieved through these methods, medications like metformin or insulin may be needed.

Type 2 diabetes is typically a chronic disease associated with a shorter life expectancy, this is mainly due to the complications associated with long-term hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Complication of long-term include: cardiovascular disease, stroke, amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and frequent infections.

With adequate control of blood glucose levels a person with Type 2 diabetes can live a relatively normal life with few limitations.

Sources:
Kumar, Vinay; Fausto, Nelson; Abbas, Abul K.; Cotran, Ramzi S. ; Robbins, Stanley L. (2005). Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease (7th ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders. pp. 1194–1195.
Shoback, edited by David G. Gardner, Dolores (2011). Greenspan’s basic & clinical endocrinology (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. pp. Chapter 17.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013, January 25). Type I diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-2-diabetes/DS00585

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