Type 2 Diabetes Overview
Type 2 diabetes, once called non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90% to 95% of the 26 million Americans with diabetes. In this article, you'll learn the basics about type 2 diabetes, including symptoms and causes, as well as learn about type 2 diabetes in children.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin adequately. This is called insulin resistance. When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose (sugar) can't get into the body's cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body's cells are not able to function properly. Other problems associated with the buildup of glucose in the blood include:
Damage to the body. Over time, the high glucose levels in the blood may damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart and predispose a person to atherosclerosis (hardening) of the large arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke.
Dehydration. The buildup of sugar in the blood can cause an increase in urination. When the kidneys lose the glucose through the urine, a large amount of water is also lost, causing dehydration.
Diabetic Coma (Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma)
. When a person with type 2 diabetes becomes very ill or severely dehydrated and is not able to drink enough fluids to make up for the fluid losses, they may develop this life-threatening complication.
Type 2 Diabetes in Children
More and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Find out about type 2 diabetes symptoms in children, the diagnosis, and the treatment in WebMD's article on type 2 diabetes in childhood. If your child is at risk for childhood diabetes, it’s important to learn specific self-care tips to help prevent diabetes.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Type 2 Diabetes in Children.
Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?
Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. However, those at highest risk for the disease are those who
- Are over 45
- Are obese or overweight
- Have had gestational diabetes
- Have family members who have type 2 diabetes
- Have prediabetes
- Are inactive
- Have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides levels
- Have high blood pressure
- Are members of certain racial or ethnic groups
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Although it is more common than type 1 diabetes, the causes of type 2 diabetes are less well understood. It is likely caused by multiple factors and not a single problem.
Type 2 diabetes can run in families, but the exact nature of how it's inherited or the identity of a single genetic factor is not known.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Causes of Type 2 Diabetes.