Symptoms of type 2 diabetes : a life-long disease

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes occur when the body's insulin does not work effectively. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to increased levels of blood sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to increased levels of blood sugar (glucose) in the blood.

Diabetes is caused by a problem in the way your body makes or uses insulin. Insulin is necessary for glucose to move from the blood to the inside of the cells.

Unless glucose gets into cells, the body cannot use it for energy. Excess glucose remains in the blood, and is then removed by the kidneys. The symptoms inlcude excessive thirst, frequent urination, hunger, and fatigue.

There are several types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes, which requires total insulin replacement in order to live because the body does not make adequate amounts
  • Type 2 diabetes, which is related to insulin resistance (lack of the ability of the body to respond to insulin appropriately) and is often accompanied by obesity and high cholesterol
  • Gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes affects up to 6% of the population in the U.S. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all cases.

A main component of type 2 diabetes is "insulin resistance". This means that the insulin produced by your pancreas cannot connect with fat and muscle cells to let glucose inside and produce energy. This causes hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).

To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin. The cells sense this flood of insulin and become even more resistant, resulting in a vicious cycle of high glucose levels and often high insulin levels.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes usually occurs gradually. Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight at the time of diagnosis. However, the disease can also develop in lean people, especially if elderly.

Genetics play a large role in type 2 diabetes and family history is a risk factor. However, low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight (especially around the waist) significantly increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Other risk factors include:

  • Race/ethnicity; African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans all have high rates of diabetes
  • Age greater than 45 years
  • Previously identified impaired glucose tolerance by your doctor
  • High blood pressure
  • HDL cholesterol of less than 35 and/or triglyceride level of greater than 250
  • History of gestational diabetes

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Often, people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent and/or slow-healing infections (including bladder, vaginal, skin)
  • Erectile dysfunction in men


Meal planning includes choosing healthy foods, eating the right amount of food, and eating meals at the right time. You should work closely with your health care provider to learn how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you need in your diet. Your specific meal plans need to be tailored to your food habits and preferences. A registered dietitian can be helpful in determining your specific, individual dietary needs.

For people with symptoms of type 2 diabetes, weight management and a well-balanced diet are important. Some people with type 2 diabetes can stop medications after intentional weight loss, although the diabetes is still present. Consultation with a registered dietitian is an invaluable planning tool.


Regular exercise is important for everyone, but especially if you have symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise helps control the amount of glucose in the blood. It also helps burn excess calories and fat to achieve optimal weight.

Exercise improves overall health by improving blood flow and blood pressure. It naturally decreases insulin resistance even without weight loss. Exercise also increases the body's energy level, lowers tension, and improves your ability to handle stress. Everyone should obtain medical approval before starting an exercise program, but this is especially important if you have diabetes.


Diabetics suffering from non-insulin dependent diabetes or type II diabetes benefit from fish oil supplementation. Research show that persons who consume 5-10 percent of their dietary energy consumption in the form of fish or fish oil, have less insulin resistance, which causes diminished glucose uptake and glucose metabolism in non-insulin dependent diabetics. Fish oil enhances insulin secretion from beta-cells in the pancreas, regulating blood sugar levels. DHA plays a protective role in diabetic neuropathy in all forms of diabetes.

More information on fish oil as an efficient agent to help people with symptoms of type 2 diabetes


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