Glucose is a type of sugar. It comes from food, and is also created in the liver. Glucose travels through the body in the blood. It moves from the blood to cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. Once glucose is in those cells, it can be used for energy.
Diabetes is a condition that makes it difficult for the body to use glucose. This causes a buildup of glucose in the blood. It also means the body is not getting enough energy. Type 2 diabetes is one type of diabetes. It is the most common type.
Medication, lifestyle changes, and monitoring can help control blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is often caused by a combination of factors. One factor is that your body begins to make less insulin. A second factor is that your body becomes resistant to insulin. This means there is insulin in your body, but your body cannot use it effectively. Insulin resistance is often related to excess body fat.
Factors that increase your chance for type 2 diabetes include:
You may have diabetes for years before you have symptoms. Symptoms caused by high blood sugar or complications may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will also be asked about your family history. A physical exam will be done.
Diagnosis is based on the results of blood testing. American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends diagnosis be made if you have one of the following:
mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter of blood; mmol/L = millimole per liter of blood
Treatment aims to:
Food and drinks have a direct effect on your blood glucose level. Eating healthy meals can help you control your blood glucose. It will also help your overall health. Some basic tips include:
If you are overweight, weight loss will help your body use insulin better. Talk to your doctor about a healthy weight goal. You and your doctor or dietitian can make a safe meal plan for you.
These options may help you lose weight:
Physical activity can:
Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate. Resistance training helps build muscle strength. Both types of exercise help to improve long-term glucose control. Regular exercise can also help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Talk to your doctor about an activity plan. Ask about any precautions you may need to take.
Certain medicines will help to manage blood glucose levels.
Medication taken by mouth may include:
Some medicine needs to be given through injections, such as:
Insulin may be needed if:
Insulin is given through injections.
You can check the level of glucose in your blood with a blood glucose meter. Checking your blood glucose levels during the day can help you stay on track. It will also help your doctor determine if your treatment is working. Keeping track of blood sugar levels is especially important if you take insulin.
Regular testing may not be needed if your diabetes is under control and you don't take insulin. Talk with your doctor before stopping blood sugar monitoring.
An HbA1c test may also be done at your doctor's office. This is a measure of blood glucose control over a long period of time. Doctors advise that most people keep their HbA1c levels below 7%. Your exact goal may be different. Keeping HbA1c in your goal range can help lower the chance of complications.
Over a long period of time, high blood glucose levels can damage vital organs. The kidneys, eyes, and nerves are most affected. Diabetes can also increase your risk of heart disease.
Maintaining goal blood glucose levels is the first step to lowering your risk of these complications. Other steps include:
To reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes:
Last reviewed September 2011 by Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.