Type 2 Diabetes symptoms

What Is Diabetes Type 2?

Diabetes Type 2 is the more common type of diabetes.

It occurs when the blood glucose, or blood sugar, in the blood is at high levels. Blood sugar is the main energy source derived from broken-down foods [1]. The pancreas in the body makes insulin, which helps the glucose move into cells to break down for energy. However, type 2 diabetes hinders the ability of the pancreas to make insulin or stops the body from using insulin for energy.

When there is too much glucose in the blood and not enough in the cells, it means you have diabetes.

Most patients with type 2 diabetes are above the age of 45 years. However, current trends show that more young adults, teens, and children are developing it now [2].

How Is Diabetes Type 2 Diagnosed?

There is a test called the Hemoglobin A1C test [3] (Hgba1c) that can measure the blood sugar level of a patient on average. It monitors and diagnoses Diabetes Type 2. How does it do that? It checks the amount of glucose attached to your hemoglobin. You have to regularly take the test to check what your blood sugar levels have been for two to three months [4].

When you are trying to diagnose Diabetes Type 2, you need to have increased levels of blood sugar. If it is 6.5% or more, it means you probably have diabetes. However, if it is between 5.7-6.4%, it indicates prediabetes.

Prediabetes means that the levels of blood sugar are increased, but not enough to diagnose diabetes type 2. This stage is important because you can reverse the blood sugar and keep it low with some lifestyle changes and medication. It is harder to do so if you have diabetes type 2.

This is the time when you can prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes type 2. You need to get regular physicals and checkups during this time so that the doctor can keep an eye on the progression of the disease.

Is Diabetes Type 2 Hereditary?

There is a strong link between lineage and family history with diabetes type 2, even more than type 1. Studies of twins have found that genetics do play a strong role in developing diabetes type 2 [5].

However, it is important not to overlook the environmental factors that can increase the risk of the disease as well. Since obesity and lifestyle run in families, you will notice similar exercise and eating habits among families. Children can adopt bad habits such as poor diet and avoiding exercise from parents that can result in diabetes type 2.

There are clear patterns of inheritance when it comes to diabetes type 2. Affected patients usually have at least one immediate family member, like a sibling or parent, that has the disease. The more family members you have with diabetes, the more likely you are to share genetic factors.

Diabetes Type 2 Symptoms

If you or your loved ones’ experience any of the symptoms and signs below, it is important to get an appointment with a doctor. If you catch diabetes during the prediabetes stage, it can be quite helpful in the long run. As stated above, this stage is critical for reversing your likelihood of getting diabetes type 2.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes Type 2?

Symptoms of Diabetes Type 2 could include [8] [9]:

  • Increased hunger
  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling fatigued and tired
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Sores, wounds, and cuts that take longer to heal
  • Weight loss with obvious reason

What Are Some Signs of Diabetes Type 2?

As mentioned, signs refer to clinical manifestations, something that could be noticed during medical tests or examinations. Some early signs of diabetes type 2 could include [10]:

  • Dry mouth
  • Swollen, red, and tender gums
  • Fainting
  • Blood sugar levels of more than 6.5% consistently

Symptoms of Diabetes Type 2 in Women vs. Symptoms of Diabetes Type 2 in Men*

Most diabetes type 2 symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, constant urination, and increased thirst for men and women are the same.

However, men usually see more genital thrush and loss of muscles. Women tend to experience more urinary infections, yeast infections, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Diabetes does affect the body in a myriad of ways when it is not managed correctly. Serious complications can include kidney disease, retinopathy, neuropathy, cardiovascular, and amputation.

45% of men that have diabetes can develop erectile dysfunction from damage to blood vessels, muscles, and nerves [11]. Women are generally more at risk of developing depression, kidney disease, and heart disease. Hence, women are more at risk for developing life-threatening complications than men.

Among women, when menopause occurs, it can create even more issues. The changes in hormones and diabetes can increase weight gain, sleeping issues, and blood glucose levels. It can exacerbate health complications and issues.

Men can develop diabetes even with a lower BMI [12]. It can lead to complications such as loss of muscle mass and erectile dysfunction. The decrease in testosterone levels in men might cause this.

Hence, women can face more life-altering and serious health complications than men.

*Note that here, we are using the terms “women” and “men” to refer to female and male biological sex at birth, respectively.

Risk Factors for Diabetes Type 2

Diabetes type 2 symptoms develop slowly. They can develop over several years, staying so mild that you might not notice the signs at first. A lot of people may not experience or ignore such symptoms. A lot of patients do not get diagnosed with the disease until they start to experience the health problems that come with diabetes. Heart disease and blurred vision might indicate diabetes.

Hence, if you are at risk for diabetes, it is important to get regularly checked for diabetes.

Let’s take a closer look at the risk factors for diabetes type 2 here:

  • Obesity
  • Older than 45 years of age
  • Immediate family, like a sibling or parent with diabetes type 2
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Had gestational diabetes
  • Given birth to a baby of over 9 pounds
  • Are Hispanic, Latino, black, or indigenous American
  • Have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

You also have an increased risk of developing diabetes type 2 if you have prediabetes. It is important to change your diet, lose weight, and do regular exercise.

The risk factors for prediabetes are:

  • Obesity
  • Older than 45 years of age
  • Immediate family, like sibling or parent with diabetes type 2
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Had gestational diabetes
  • Given birth to a baby of over 9 pounds
  • Are Hispanic, Latino, black, or indigenous American

Diabetes Type 2 Prevention

There are several ways to prevent diabetes type 2 from emerging, especially if you are at high risk or in the prediabetes stage.

Healthier Diet

There is no need to follow fad diets and rather focus on a sustainable approach to food. Some factors you should focus on are [13]:

  • Smaller portions
  • Regular schedule for healthy snacks and meals
  • High-fiber foods such as whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits.
  • Avoid refined grains and sweets
  • Healthy cooking oil like ghee, canola oil, or olive oil
  • Modest consumption of low-fat meat, low-fat dairy, and fish
  • Fewer calories

You can also visit a registered dietitian. They can help you with healthier food choices, nutritional meals, monitoring carbs, and barriers to healthy food habits.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

You need to make sure to check the levels of blood sugar every day to ensure that you are staying in the target range. If the target isn’t met with medications and lifestyle changes, you should consider insulin.

There is a blood glucose meter that you can use to check your blood sugar at home. It measures the sugar amount from a blood drop. Make sure to keep a record of the measurements so that you can show it to your doctor.


If the blood sugar is still not in the right target range with exercise and diet, you might need medication to lower the levels of glucose. Medication can include:

  • Metformin
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Glinides
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • DPP-4 inhibitors
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists
  • SGLT2 inhibitors

Insulin Therapy

There might be some patients that require insulin therapy, but it is often used as a last resort. If the target isn’t met with medications and lifestyle changes, then insulin is given.

There are different insulin types that vary in the effect they have and how they work. Short-acting insulin works at mealtimes. Long-acting insulin is usually for throughout the day or overnight.

Physical Activity

Exercise can help lower blood sugar, lower weight, and boost sensitivity to insulin. All of this help to decrease the risk of diabetes type 2.

To maintain a healthier weight and achieve weight loss, you can try [14]:

  • Aerobics exercise: We recommend 30 minutes of vigorous to moderate exercises. You can try running, biking, swimming, and brisk walking. You should do 150 minutes in total per week.
  • Resistance exercise: We recommend increasing balance, strength, and activeness. Do resistance exercises around 2-3 times per week. It can include calisthenics, yoga, and weightlifting.
  • Limit inactivity: We recommend breaking up inactivity. If you work at a desk, take a few minutes after every half hour to walk around and do a little light activity.

Avoid Smoking

Smokers are 50% more likely to develop type diabetes than those who don’t smoke. Heavy or chain smokers have higher risks, too [15].

Diabetes Type 2 Prognosis and Treatment

The prognosis for Diabetes Type 2 is highly dependent on the severity and lifestyle you have. In general, Diabetes Type 2 caught at the prediabetes stage have a better outlook.

Diabetes Type 2 Survival Rate

The survival rate for diabetes is dependent on how well you manage the disease. If you get diagnosed at the age of 50 years, the life expectancy of the patient is shorter by 6 years than people who don’t have it [16]. You can reduce any risk of health complications and live a great life through that.

Diabetes Type 2 Treatment Options

There is no full cure for diabetes type 2, but you can learn to manage it with [17]:

  • Weight loss
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Monitoring blood sugar
  • Insulin therapy and diabetes medication



Diabetes type 2 symptoms are important to monitor since diabetes can have a huge impact on the body. It can result in serious health complications if it is not managed properly. It is necessary for people with diabetes to monitor their diet and physical activity. Making changes in lifestyle can have a huge impact on the management of diabetes.