Looking for more information about type 2 diabetes? We’ve got all you need to know.
What is type 2 diabetes?
What causes 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 then responds to this by releasing insulin. But because this insulin can’t work properly, your blood sugar levels keep rising. This means 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 can lead to even higher blood sugar levels and mean you are at risk of hyperglycaemia.
Is type 2 diabetes serious?
Around 90% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 2. It is serious condition and can be lifelong.
If left untreated, high sugar levels in your blood can seriously damage parts of your body, including your eyes, heart and feet. These are called the complications of diabetes. But with the right treatment and care, you can live well with type 2 diabetes and reduce your risk of developing them.
Learn more about diabetes complications.
Managing type 2 diabetes
Learning how to live with type 2 diabetes can be challenging, but we’ll help you to discover what works for you. Some people can manage it through healthier eating, being more active or losing weight. But eventually most people will need medication to bring their blood sugar down to their target level.
Learn more about managing your diabetes.
Can type 2 diabetes be cured?
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but some people are able to put their diabetes into remission. This means that your blood sugar levels are healthy and you don’t need to take diabetes medication any more. Remission can be life-changing, but it’s not possible for everyone.
Learn more about diabetes remission.
Treatments for type 2 diabetes
There are a number of different ways you can treat type 2 diabetes, such as making healthy lifestyle choices, using insulin or taking medication. Your healthcare team will help you to find the right treatment for you. This can reduce your risk of developing complications and help you to live well with diabetes.
Learn more about diabetes treatments.
Type 2 and insulin
You may not need to use insulin straight away but many people with type 2 diabetes need to use insulin as treatment at some point. If you need to start insulin treatment, remember that this isn’t your fault.
Some people have very high blood sugar levels when they are first diagnosed. Insulin can be used as a short-term treatment to help quickly bring down your blood sugar levels.
Some people may need to take insulin for a particular reason, like during pregnancy, a severe illness, or after surgery. But you may also need to start insulin as a treatment if other medications haven’t helped managed your blood sugar levels or aren’t appropriate for you.
When you start taking insulin, you may notice that you start to put on weight. There are lots of reasons for this, like how much insulin you take, your diet and the type of insulin you’re taking. If you’re worried about putting on weight, or you’d like some help losing weight, then we’re here to help.
It’s still important to keep going to your appointments and manage your condition with healthy lifestyle choices. Staying active and eating a healthy diet will reduce the risk of complications from your diabetes.
Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes
When you have type 2 diabetes your body can’t get enough glucose into your cells, so a common symptom is feeling very tired. There are also other symptoms to look out for. These include feeling thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and losing weight without trying to.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can develop more slowly than the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, making the condition harder to spot. That’s why a lot of people don’t get any symptoms, or don’t notice them.
Some people also don’t think the symptoms are important, so don’t ask for help. This means some people can live for up to 10 years with type 2 diabetes before being diagnosed.
Learn more about the symptoms of diabetes.
Risk factors of type 2 diabetes
There are several factors that can affect your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Because the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are not always obvious, it’s really important to be aware of these risk factors. They can include:
- your age
- if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes
- your ethnicity
- high blood pressure
- being overweight
We’ve got more information about all of the risk factors, as well as a Know Your Risk tool that can help you discover your risk of type 2 diabetes within minutes.
Learn more about the risk factors of type 2 diabetes.
Newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
Knowing where to get started following a type 2 diagnosis can be a challenge. You may feel overwhelmed, but it’s important to know there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to managing the condition.
As well as using the information on this page to understand your condition, you can meet other people with type 2 diabetes in our Learning Zone. You’ll hear advice from others in your position, and get practical tools to help you feel more confident managing your condition.
Want to know more?
Whether you are newly diagnosed, looking to improve your diabetes management, or in need of information to support others, we are here to help. We’ve got lots more information about:
Preventing type 2 diabetes
Did you know that with the right support, up to halve of type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed of prevented? Our information about preventing type 2 will show you some of the steps that can help you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition.
Checking your blood sugar levels
Checking your blood sugar levels is an important part of managing your diabetes, so we’ll take you through how to check them and what your readings mean.
Living with type 2 diabetes
Having type 2 diabetes can bring up lots of questions about your lifestyle, but we’re here with the answers. From nutritional advice and recipes to help you know what to eat when you have type 2 diabetes, to guidance about keeping active and staying fit – we’re here to support you.
Type 2 diabetes is also associated with other health conditions, such as thyroid disease and dental problems. It’s important to be aware of these, so make sure to read our information about diabetes related conditions.
Type 2 diabetes is a complicated condition, and it may seem like there’s a lot of information to take in. If you’re feeling worried or stressed, we’ve got emotional support and advice that you may find helpful.
For some people, managing their diabetes with technology can be life-changing. But we also know it can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to begin. Our information and guidance about diabetes technology will help you understand what the different types of tech do and how to access them, so you can find what works for you.
Research into type 2 diabetes
We have been funding leading research projects into type 2 diabetes for over 80 years. You can find out more about the impact of this research, and how it has helped to transform the lives of millions living with the condition.