Type 2 Diabetes: Causes and Symptoms

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for over 90% of all diabetes cases.1,2

Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes and noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), but the disease can have an onset at any age, increasingly including childhood.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes mellitus most commonly develops in adulthood and is more likely to occur in people who are overweight and physically inactive.

Unlike type 1 diabetes which currently cannot be prevented, many of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes can be modified. For many people, therefore, it is possible to prevent the condition.

The “International Diabetes Foundation” recommended four symptoms that signal the need for diabetes testing:

Causes of type 2 diabetes

Insulin resistance is usually the precursor to type 2 diabetes – a condition in which more insulin than usual is needed for glucose to enter cells. Insulin resistance in the liver results in more glucose production while resistance in peripheral tissues means glucose uptake is impaired.

The impairment stimulates the pancreas to make more insulin but eventually the pancreas is unable to make enough to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high.


What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

  • Genetics plays a part in type 2 diabetes – relatives of people with the disease are at a higher risk.
  • Obesity is the single most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The more overweight you are, the more resistant your body is to insulin.
  • Age

The risk for type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after 45 years of age. Although you can’t change your age, you can work on other risk factors to reduce your risk.

Family history

Although you can’t change your family history, it is important for you and your doctor to know if diabetes runs in your family.



Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of diabetes. Any amount of activity is better than none, but try to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.


A diet high in fat, calories and cholesterol increases your risk of diabetes. In addition, a poor diet can lead to obesity (another risk factor for diabetes) and other health problems.


Once type 2 diabetes has been diagnosed, health care providers can help patients with a program of education and monitoring, including how to spot the signs of hypoglycemiahyperglycemia and other diabetic complications.

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