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Conditions InDepth: Type 2 Diabetes

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Insulin is a hormone normally produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps your body convert food into energy. Without insulin, glucose (sugar) from food cannot enter cells, and glucose builds up in the blood. Your body tissues become starved for energy.

Type 2 diabetes is primarily a disorder in which the cells are not responding to the high levels of insulin circulating in the body. The body becomes increasingly resistant to insulin. As type 2 diabetes progresses, the over-worked beta cells of the pancreas start to make less insulin.

How Type 2 Diabetes Occurs
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Type 2 diabetes occurs because either one or both of the following conditions exist:

  • Fat, muscle, or liver cells do not respond to the high levels of insulin (called insulin resistance)
  • Beta cells in the pancreas do not make enough insulin relative to the demands of the body

People older than age 45 years are at higher risk of developing this condition, but it can occur at any age—even during childhood. Being overweight or obese is the primary cause of insulin resistance, and it increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

When your blood glucose level is not within the ideal range, you can experience the following problems:

  • In the short-term:
    • Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose)
    • Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose)
  • In the long-term:

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Revision Information

  • Diabetes overview. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/overview/index.aspx . Updated April 4, 2012. Accessed August 7, 2012.

  • Type 2. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/?loc=DropDownDB-type2 . Accessed August 7, 2012.