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What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin.


What causes Type 2 diabetes?

About 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. We all need insulin to live. It does an essential job. It allows the glucose in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body still breaks down carbohydrate from your food and drink and turns it into glucose.

The pancreas responds to this by releasing insulin. But because this insulin can’t work properly, blood glucose (also called sugar) levels keep rising.So more insulin is released. For some people with Type 2 diabetes this can eventually tire the pancreas out, meaning their body makes less and less insulin. This causes even higher blood sugar levels.

Six in 10 people have no symptoms when they’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes

Signs and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes

So what does this mean? Well, as your body can’t get enough glucose into your cells, a common symptom of Type 2 diabetes is feeling very tired. There are other symptoms of diabetes to look out for. 

A lot of people don’t get any symptoms or they don’t notice them. Some people don’t think the symptoms are important so don’t ask for help. This means that some people live with Type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years before being diagnosed.

And, over a long period of time, high sugar levels in your blood can seriously damage your heart, your eyes, your feet and your kidneys. These are known as the complications of diabetes.

Managing Type 2 diabetes

But with the right treatment and care, the effects of diabetes and high blood sugar levels can potentially be reversed and certainly managed. So if you’ve got any of the symptoms we've mentioned, see your doctor as soon as possible.

There are different ways of treating Type 2 diabetes. Some people can manage it by healthier eating, being more active and losing weight. Eventually most people will need medication to bring their blood glucose down to a safe level.

Whatever the treatment, everyone with Type 2 diabetes needs to learn how to live with it. And we help people do exactly that.

Remission in Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is still a serious condition. It can be lifelong and get worse over time for many, but it doesn’t have to be like this for everyone.

Remission in people with Type 2 diabetes means that your blood sugar levels go back to normal and you don’t need to take diabetes medication any more. This can be life-changing for those who can go into remission, but it's not possible for everyone. We've got lots more information about remission.

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