Things to Know About Type 2 Diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high.

In your body, a hormone called insulin helps move glucose out of your blood and into your cells. The glucose gives your cells energy. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or use it the way it should. This causes the glucose to stay in your blood. That can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, so it’s important to know if you’re at risk.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

There are some risk factors for diabetes that are out of your control, such as:

  • Being age 45 or older.
  • Having family members related to you by blood who have it.
  • Being Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or Alaskan Native.

There are other risk factors that you can have some control over, such as:

  • Being overweight.
  • Not getting enough physical activity.
  • Eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates (carbs).

If you have any of these risk factors, talk with your healthcare provider about getting tested for diabetes.

Signs of Type 2 Diabetes

Signs of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly, so you may not even notice. Some people do not have any signs at all. Some signs of diabetes include:

  • Being very thirsty or hungry.
  • Feeling more tired than usual.
  • Urinating (peeing) more than usual.
  • Losing weight without trying.
  • Having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal.
  • Having blurry vision.
  • Feeling numb or tingling in your hands or feet.

Tests for Type 2 Diabetes

There are a few types of blood tests your healthcare provider can use to test for diabetes:

  • Hemoglobin A1c test measures your blood glucose over time, in the past 2 to 3 months.
  • Fasting glucose test measures your current blood glucose level. You need to fast (not eat or drink anything except water) for at least 8 hours before the test.
  • Random blood glucose test measures your current blood glucose level. This test can be done anytime, even after eating or drinking.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Eat healthy. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein. Choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt. When eating a meal, fill:

  • ½ of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • ¼ with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken or turkey without the skin
  • ¼ with a whole grain, such as brown rice.

Avoid white rice, bread, flour, fruit juice, soda, candy, and sugary baked goods.

Be physically active. Talk with your healthcare provider about increasing your physical activity. Once you know what’s safe for you, make a plan. Keep in mind there are 2 types of exercise that most adults need to stay healthy:

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and get your heart beating faster. Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or dancing. That’s about 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. Examples include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups. Aim to do these types of activities 2 days a week.

See your healthcare provider regularly. Eating right, exercising, and getting tested are some things you can do to help prevent diabetes. Your healthcare provider can help monitor your health and lower your risk of getting diabetes. Talk to your provider about:

  • Eating a balanced diet.
  • Being physically active.
  • Signs of diabetes.
  • Monitoring your glucose levels.

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Last Updated

Wednesday, February 22, 2023