Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Type 2 diabetes?

A: The cells in your body need insulin to change glucose, the sugar that comes from the food you eat, into the energy you need to live. Without insulin, this sugar cannot get into your cells to do its work. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood sugar level then gets too high.

Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance. This means that your pancreas is making enough insulin, but your cells are not able to use it. When your cells don't get the sugar they need, your pancreas works harder at first to make more insulin. But after a while, your pancreas stops being able to make enough insulin.

High blood sugar can harm many parts of the body. It can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout your body. You will have a bigger chance of getting eye, heart, blood vessel, nerve, and kidney disease.

Your weight, level of physical activity, and family history affect how your body responds to insulin. People who are overweight, get little or no exercise, or have diabetes in the family are more likely to get type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is usually found in adults, which is why it used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But now more and more children and teens are getting it too.Type 2 diabetes is a disease that you will always have, but you can live a long and healthy life by learning how to manage it.

Q: What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

A: Many people have symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and blurred vision. Some people do not have symptoms, especially when diabetes is diagnosed early.

Q: How is it treated?

A: A healthy diet helps keep your blood sugar under control and helps prevent heart disease. Eating the right amount of carbohydrate at each meal is very important. Carbohydrate is found in sugar and sweets, grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and milk and yogurt. A dietitian or a certified diabetes educator can help you plan your meals. Eating right and getting more exercise are enough for some people to control their blood sugar levels. Others also need to take one or more medicines, including insulin.

You may need to take other steps to prevent other problems from diabetes. These problems are called complications. People with diabetes are more likely to die from heart and blood vessel problems like heart attack and stroke. If you are 40 or older, talk to your doctor about taking a low-dose aspirin each day to help prevent these or other large blood vessel diseases. You may also need medicine for high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If you smoke, quitting may help you avoid problems with your heart and large blood vessels.

Q: Can type 2 diabetes be reversed?

A: Type 2 diabetes can't be cured, but it can be reversed by eating right and exercising regularly.
Lowering carb intake is crucial, says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic, because too many carbohydrates will cause your blood sugar levels to spike. But dealing with diabetes requires paying attention to your whole diet.
Here are some quick tips:

  • Pass on the peas, corn, carrots, and other starchy vegetables. Focus instead on leafy greens.
  • Get most of your protein from poultry rather than red meat.
  • Eat oily fish twice a week - it's full of healthy fat.
  • Pick breads that have a lot of fiber.
  • Learn to read nutrition labels.
  • Make an appointment with a dietitian or nutritionist. They are often covered by insurance.

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Last Updated: May 5, 2016