Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases of the disease. In type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or cells don’t use it effectively, a condition known as insulin resistance.
Insulin carries glucose, a type of sugar, from the blood into cells where it can be used for energy. If insulin doesn’t do its job and glucose builds up in the blood, complications such as heart disease, kidney problems and nerve damage can develop over time.
Could You Have Type 2 Diabetes and Not Know It?
In its early stages, type 2 diabetes can do its damage without any obvious symptoms. That may explain why six million Americans—one out of three adults with type 2 diabetes—don’t know they have it. When symptoms do appear, they may seem harmless and vague and can often mimic other problems. Some of the more common symptoms include:
• extreme thirst
• increased hunger
• significant weight loss without trying
• unexplained fatigue
• blurry vision
• frequent urination
• tingling hands and feet
• sexual problems
• sores that don’t heal
The simplest test for diabetes is a blood sugar test. It involves nothing more than a finger prick to provide a drop of blood for analysis. Sometimes your doctor will order a different test called a glucose tolerance test that may pick up type 2 diabetes at an earlier stage.
Results generally fall into three categories: type 2 diabetes, normal and an intermediate level called pre-diabetes, which indicates higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, your doctor will likely recommend that you lose a modest amount of weight and take up some form of regular physical activity.
• Ask your doctor how often you should be tested for diabetes.
• If you develop any of the common symptoms, report them to your doctor.
• To learn more about pre-diabetes, log on to americanheart.org/diabetes