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Understanding Type 2 Diabetes

Type2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes mellitus and it accounts for approximately 90% of all cases.

Type 2 diabetes tends to occur much later in life than type 1, with the majority of cases occurring after age forty (40).


...Hence the reason it is sometimes referred to as adult onset diabetes.

It has a gradual onset and symptoms may be mild and hardly noticeable, in the early stages of the disorder.  As it progresses, however, symptoms become much more server and tend to peak between ages sixty (60) and sixty five (65).

What Is The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

A distinction needs to be made between type 1 diabetes and type 2.  With type 1 (insulin dependent), the insulin producing cells, called beta cells, are mistakenly destroyed by the body's own immune system.  With type 2 (insulin resistance), however, beta cells are not destroyed.  They still produce and release insulin but the body is not able to effectively utilize the insulin.  Hence the reason it is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance, since the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is also referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus... Why? ...Well, the problem is not the lack of insulin but the lack of use of it, at the cellular level of the body.  So, although insulin is being produced by the body, glucose cannot be properly metabolized and it accumulates in the blood.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

The root cause of diabetes type 2 is still inconclusive.  Research is on-going to determine exactly why the body's cells develop a resistance to insulin.

One popular theory is that insulin receptors in the body's cells become defective.  Receptors are special molecules on the surface of cells that facilitate the entry of insulin into the cells. Defective or insufficient receptors can lead to insulin resistance.

Although the exact cause is uncertain two major risk factors are heredity and obesity.  A large proportion of type 2 diabetics have a close relative (family member) with the disease and over 80% are obese.


The symptoms of type 2 and type 1 diabetes are similar. The only difference is that the symptoms of type 1 tend to occur abruptly, while symptoms of type 2 occur gradually, over an extended period (usually 10 or more years).  Initially, symptoms of type 2 may be hardly noticeable but, over time, become progressively worst.

Common symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision

  • Excessive urination (polyuria)

  • Intense thirst (polydipsia)

  • Fatigue

  • Weight Loss

  • Increased hunger (polyphagia)

  • Loss of feeling in the hands and feet, caused by nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy)


These are classical symptoms of type 2 (and type 1) diabetes.  Other long-term effects may include cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.  (Diabetes mellitus is a leading cause of kidney failure).

How Is It Treated?

Unlike diabetics with type 1, type 2 diabetic patients may not require insulin, especially in the earlier stages of the disease.  In most cases the patient's beta cells produce adequate insulin, so it is not necessary to administer additional insulin... Hence the reason type 2 diabetes is sometimes referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.

Instead, type 2 diabetic patients may require oral medication to help the body's cells to utilize insulin. In addition to oral medication, treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes may include a weight loss program, regular exercises and proper diet.

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