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Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin into the blood, which helps the body use sugar and fats from the food you eat. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces too little insulin or insulin that doesn’t work properly, so sugar can’t be used to make energy. This causes blood sugar to rise, which can lead to complications.
Type 2 diabetes most commonly affects overweight people over 40 years old. People with type 2 diabetes sometimes can manage it by controlling their weight and diet and exercising regularly. Oral medication or insulin injections may be needed to reduce blood sugar levels.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are older age, a family history of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, the use of certain drugs and heavy alcohol drinking. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and those of Asian decent have an increased risk for developing diabetes. If you had diabetes during pregnancy or if you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds, you may be at greater risk.
Long-term complications of type 2 diabetes include heart and blood vessel diseases, nerve damage, kidney damage, blindness, glaucoma, foot infections that can lead to amputation, hearing loss, various skin conditions and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.