Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body's main source of fuel. Type 2 diabetes is often preventable, but the condition is on the rise — fueled largely by the current obesity epidemic.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your body is resistant to the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the absorption of sugar into your cells — or your body produces some, but not enough, insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. Left uncontrolled, the consequences of type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening.
Type 1 diabetes is a similar, although much less common, condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but there's plenty you can do to manage — or prevent — the condition. Start by eating healthy foods, including physical activity in your daily routine and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough, you may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy to manage your blood sugar
Type 2 diabetes symptoms may seem harmless at first. In fact, you can have type 2 diabetes for years and not even know it. Look for:
Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream, fluid is pulled from your tissues. This may leave you thirsty. As a result, you may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your cells, your muscles and organs become depleted of energy. This triggers intense hunger that may persist even after you eat.
Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve your constant hunger, you may lose weight. Without the energy sugar supplies, your muscle tissues and fat stores may simply shrink.
Fatigue. If your cells are deprived of sugar, you may become tired and irritable.
Blurred vision. If your blood sugar level is too high, fluid may be pulled from your tissues — including the lenses of your eyes. This may affect your ability to focus.
Slow-healing sores or frequent infections. Type 2 diabetes affects your ability to heal and fight infections. Bladder and vaginal infections can be a particular problem for women.
Some people who have type 2 diabetes have patches of dark, velvety skin in the folds and creases of their bodies — usually in the armpits and neck. This condition, called acanthosis nigricans, is a sign of insulin resistance.