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Diabetes, type 2

Introduction 

Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. It is also sometimes known as diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes affects two million people in England and Wales. It is also thought that there are a further 750,000 people who have the condition but are unaware of it.

How does diabetes occur?

Normally, the amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas (a gland that is located behind the stomach). When food is digested and enters the bloodstream, insulin helps to move any glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.

However, in diabetes, because there is either not enough insulin, or because there is a poor response (resistance) to insulin, the body is unable to fully use the glucose in the blood stream.

There are two types of diabetes: diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2. This article focuses on type 2 diabetes. See Useful links for information about type 1 diabetes.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body for it to function properly, or when the body’s cells do not react to insulin. This is called insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body does not produce any insulin at all. Around 95% of all people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control your symptoms simply by eating a healthy diet, and monitoring your blood glucose level. However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, you may eventually need to take insulin medication, usually in the form of injections.

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity. Obesity-related diabetes is sometimes referred to as maturity onset diabetes because it is more common in older people.

Gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy)

During pregnancy, some women have such high levels of glucose in their blood that their body cannot produce enough insulin to absorb it all. This is known as gestational diabetes, and affects approximately 2-7% of pregnant women.

Pregnancy can also sometimes make existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes more difficult to control. If you are pregnant, you may require additional time and effort to manage your diabetes during your pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of health problems developing in an unborn baby, so it is important that you keep the glucose levels in your blood under control.

In most cases, gestational diabetes disappears after the baby is born. However, women with the condition have an estimated 30% risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.

  • show glossary terms
Chronic
Chronic usually means a condition that continues for a long time or keeps coming back.
Glucose
Glucose (or dextrose) is a type of sugar that is used by the body to produce energy.
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that helps the body to control blood sugar levels.
Obesity
Obesity is when a person has an abnormally high amount of body fat.

Last reviewed: 05/01/2009

Next review due: 05/01/2010

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marketshare said on 28 February 2010

What works for one person is not guaranteed to work for all. To be updated with all developments in diabetes you can visit http://everythingaboutdiabetes.blogspot.com

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Wrong diagnosis said on 18 February 2010

In 2006 I had a test done and I was very marginally diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I was hovering over 16 stone and I liked my food too much but made an instantaneous change in lifestyle and lost a stone, as soon as I made the changes by cutting out sugar all together the next couple of tests were normal, I have not had any fasting tests since and don’t consider myself diabetic, just recently I have been getting letters from the doctors asking me to go for tests, I have previously written to him to request that my name be removed from the register. Having being diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago and thankfully making a good recovery I have lost over 5 stone and during my stay in hospital I mentioned this earlier diagnosis of diabetes but every test that was carried out was normal.
The question I would like to ask is what right do I have to get the diagnosis reversed and information removed from my medical records as I believe I may have been miss diagnosed in the first instance, I have no intention of having anymore tests carried out for this condition.
Thanks for reading

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thiruvelan said on 25 January 2010

Yes, diabetes is causes if there is low or no insulin secretion or improper utilization of insulin. One major risk factor for diabetes is obesity, there are many treatment option for diabetes; lifestyle changes, conventional treatment (insulin or medications) and natural alternative medicines (herbs, homeopathy, yoga, acupressure, reflexology, etc) http://healthy-ojas.com/diabetes/diabetes-details.html

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Reverse Diabetes said on 07 January 2010

When I was informed that I had diabetes type 2, I thought it was the start of the down hill - in my late 30's - But at 45, I made a major lifestyle change that introduced eating the right foods at the right times and doing a little exercise. After 6 months I had completely managed to reverse the situation and lose 4 stone of weight - two birds with one stone. I have now managed to do some 10k runs, a half marathon and really enjoy life - and for the past year (now 46) managed to keep the weight off and my sugar levels normal without any medication. More information on how I did this can be found on http://www.howireverseddiabetes.com - Now that I have reversed it I am a media role model for Diabetes UK and would love to get my message that change for the better can take place with a little effort. If anyone would like some help with answers to how I did it email me through the website - all the best to those who try to become healthier - Andrew

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jaxhogan said on 10 December 2009

I agree.

If diabetes is essentially the inability to process carbohydrates effectively, then it would seem to make sense to eat less of them!

I also believe than obesity is a SYMPTOM of diabetes, not a CAUSE. If your body doesn't metabolise carbs properly, then you don't get energy from them. So you eat more to compensate. QED.

I've been diabetic for nearly a year, and applying this thought process has brought my BG down from 17.9 to 5.1. That convinced me!

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TKes said on 26 November 2009

The diet recommended for type2 diabetics is based on carbohydrate-rich foods. Then a diabetic has to take a variety of drugs to reduce excess blood glucose. Wouldn't it be better to eat less carbohydrates so as not to raise blood glucose too much in the first place?

That is what is recommended at http://www.diabetes-diet.org.uk, and it certainly works for me. I found after just one breakfast of scrambled eggs ij butter, my glucose was the lowest it's been in years. It was amazing!

For several weeks now I have stuck to a very low carb diet and my glucose has st5ayed in the normal range. I guess I am now no longer diabetic?

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Two friends

Diabetes

Living with diabetes means special challenges. Learn more, and read real stories.

NSF for diabetes

Find out about the strategies being used for the prevention of diabetes or further complications from the disease, especially within high-risk groups.

The diabetes blog

People with diabetes talk about how they live with the condition.