Type 2 diabetes happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas cannot make enough. This may be due to a person's genes and habits.

Risk Factors

Type 2 is more common in people with obesity and those over 45 years of age. People who are American Indian, Alaska natives, Black, and Hispanic are at higher risk. Some other common risks are:

  • Prediabetes—slightly high glucose levels
  • Metabolic syndrome—fat around the belly and high cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Past gestational diabetes or having a baby that weighs over 9 pounds at birth
  • Unhealthful eating habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Taking certain medicines, such as glucocorticoids or thiazides



Most people do not have problems right away. Others may have:

  • Frequent urination (peeing)
  • Increased thirst
  • Hunger
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent infections


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Diabetes is diagnosed with blood tests that check for high glucose levels. More than one test may be done.

These blood tests will also be done to find out whether it is type 1 or type 2:

  • Insulin level or C-peptide tests—to see how much insulin is being made by the pancreas
  • Tests that look for antibodies that are working against the pancreas



The goal is to keep glucose levels at close to normal levels. This can be done with:

Healthy Habits

Healthy habits can help manage type 2, such as:

  • Testing blood glucose levels often
  • Working with a dietitian to make a meal plan that will help keep blood glucose levels normal
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Reaching and keeping a healthy weight
  • Getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night


Some people may need medicine to lower insulin resistance. There are many types. Metformin is a common medicine that is given.

People who cannot manage type 2 with healthy habits and medicine may need insulin. It will replace the insulin hormone that their body does not make. It can be given by injection, inhaler, or by a pump that gives it in small amounts during the day.


A person may not be able to lower the risk of diabetes. Exercising, staying at a healthy weight, and healthful eating may help.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.