A person taking a sample of their blood

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition affecting the body's ability to process sugar (glucose) for energy, leading to dangerously high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia). It's the most common form of diabetes.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include excessive thirst, frequent urination, and extreme fatigue. As the disease progresses, serious complications can develop, including skin disorders, sexual dysfunction, nerve damage, kidney disease, and vision loss.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin (a hormone essential for bringing glucose into cells). The condition can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. 

In many cases, type 2 diabetes can be managed through lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise, though medication may also be necessary. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes type 2 diabetes?

    Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance (when cells become less sensitive to insulin), or when the pancreas produces less insulin than necessary for proper glucose balance. While family history and genetics play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, lifestyle factors such as consuming a diet rich in processed foods, low physical activity, and obesity can contribute, too.

  • Is type 2 diabetes curable?

    If you're able to closely follow a comprehensive treatment plan (typically including both medication and lifestyle changes), type 2 diabetes can be reversible. Reversible isn't the same as curable, but it does mean a reduced risk of future complications. It may be possible for some people to wean off medication and manage their diabetes solely through diet and exercise.

  • What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

    Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune cells attack the pancreas, stopping insulin production. It usually develops during childhood, but may occur after age 30, too. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body's cells become desensitized to insulin. It typically sets in during adulthood, but may affect children, too.

  • Is type 2 diabetes genetic?

    It seems that if you have a family member who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you're more likely to develop the condition yourself, suggesting a genetic component. However, having a genetic disposition is not a guarantee you'll be diagnosed—your lifestyle plays an important part, too. What you eat, how much you exercise, your weight and age all determine which genes can be turned on or off—a concept called epigenetics.

Key Terms
woman with diabetes testing
What Exactly Is Sugar Diabetes?
Mature female patient in exam room with doctor
Comorbid Conditions and Diabetes
diabetes test
The Best At-Home Diabetes Tests for 2021
Neonatal Hypoglycemia
Neonatal Hypoglycemia: Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis
Lady's finger bananas in bowl on banana leaves
How Hypoglycemia Is Treated
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
Woman checking blood sugar with a finger prick
Reactive Hypoglycemia: Overview and More
tired exhausted fatigued thyroid
Causes and Risk Factors of Hypoglycemia
Man Checking Glucose
How Hypoglycemia Is Diagnosed
Foods to avoid when you have diabetes
Foods to Avoid When You Have Diabetes
Woman checking blood sugar level and using mobile phone in train
Livongo: Meter and Coaching for Diabetes Management
Young woman drinking bottle of water, outdoors, side view
Polydipsia: Overview and More
A portrait of medical doctor monitoring a patient's blood sugar/ glucose level.
Type 2 Diabetes: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
Woman checking her blood glucose using her glucose meter
Prediabetes: Overview and More
woman running to toilet
When You Have Diabetes and Urinary Problems
Urine Test
Albuminuria in Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Nurse Drawing Blood
Hyperinsulinemia: Overview and More
Woman waking up in bed
The Dawn Phenomenon: Causes and Treatment
Female boxers resting, eating snack post workout at gritty gym with punching bags
Insulin Resistance: Overview and More
Dermatologist removing moles with tools
Clipping Those Gnarly Skin Tags
Blood glucose can be measured with a blood test
Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin Resistance, and Prediabetes
Screening Senior for Prediabetes
How to Stop Prediabetes from Turning into Diabetes
Overweight man using a tape measure to measure his waist
Metabolic Syndrome: Overview and More
African American businessman eating donut at desk
Type 2 Diabetes: Causes and Risk Factors
Mature man diabetic testing himself at home
Steps to Reducing Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
A diabetic testing her blood sugar.
How Blood Sugar Affects Your Cholesterol Level
Checking blood pressure
Celiac Disease and Metabolic Syndrome
Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program MDPP
How the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Works
diabetic nephropathy
Diabetic Nephropathy: Overview and More
Man checking sugar level with glucometer
What is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist?
A woman injecting a GLP-1 agonist
What Are GLP-1 Agonists and How Do They Work?
Doctor talking to patient in office
How Type 2 Diabetes Is Diagnosed
continous glucose monitor
FreeStyle Libre: A Glucose Meter Without a Finger Prick
Close up nurse demonstrating insulin pen on finger
A Mixed Meal Tolerance Test for Clinical Trials
Woman Talking to Her Doctor
Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Uses, Procedure, Results
Man taking medicine
Drugs Approved for Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
Nervous woman
Overcoming Your Fears of Self-Injection
Finely ground cinnamon in white ceramic bowl isolated on white wood background from above. Cinnamon sticks.
Natural Remedies for Type 2 Diabetes
Woman setting smartphone on arm while running
What to Do If You Are Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes
Nurse drawing woman's blood
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test Uses, Procedure and Results
A blood glucose test is often done on a small drop of blood.
The A1C Test: Uses, Procedure, Results
Doctor taking blood sample from a patient's finger
Fructosamine Blood Glucose Level Test for Diabetes
Basqimi (glucagon nasal powder)
Basqimi Nasal (Glucagon): Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Woman holding prescription pill bottles
An Overview of Oral Diabetes Medication
Bathroom door cracked open
SGLT-2 Inhibitors for Blood Glucose Monitoring
syringes and medication
GlucaGen: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Close-up of businessman injecting insulin in abdomen in office
Symlin (Pramlintide Injection): Uses, Side Effects, Dosages
Pharmacist
Januvia: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Metformin pouring out of a bottle
Biguanides: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Close up of blood sugar measurement devices and pills
Actos: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Glucophage (metformin) pills spilling out of a container
Glucophage (Metformin): Uses, Side Effects, Dosage
Patient using insulin pen on thigh
Ozempic: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Close up of someone holding a pill
Meglitinides: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Close up on syringes for diabetes
Bydureon: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Computer artwork of molecules of insulin circulating in the blood stream
How Insulin Works in the Body
Girl holding a syringe with insulin
Insulin Injection Sites: All You Need to Know
How Do Different Types of Insulin Work?
Vials of insulin
Overview of the Different Types of Insulin
Older man giving himself injection
Levemir: Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Precautions
Vials of insulin
V-Go Insulin Delivery Device: Use, Dosage, Side Effects
Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is diabetes. December 2016.

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & causes of diabetes. December 2016.

  3. American Diabetes Association. Complications.

  4. Prasad RB, Groop L. Genetics of type 2 diabetes-pitfalls and possibilities. Genes (Basel). 2015;6(1):87-123. doi: 10.3390/genes6010087

  5. Goyal N, Kaur R, Sud A, Ghorpade N, Gupta M. Non Diabetic and Stress Induced Hyperglycemia [SIH] in Orthopaedic Practice What do we know so Far?. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(10):LH01-3. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/10027.5022

  6. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insulin resistance and diabetes. Updated 2019.

  7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Insulin resistance and prediabetes. December 2016.

Additional Reading