Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, because the pancreas still produces insulin, though the amount reduces over time. The main problem is that the body cells become increasingly resistant to the action of insulin, so it does not stimulate the cells sufficiently to take up glucose from the blood. Symptoms such as thirst and passing large amounts of urine may be absent. Type 2 diabetes may be present for many years before a diagnosis is made, because some people have few symptoms or take no notice of them, e.g. they may not see their thirst or getting up at night to pass urine as a problem. Having Type 2 diabetes for several years before a diagnosis is made can mean that complications of diabetes, which take years to develop, may already be present at the time of diagnosis.
Over-eating and lack of exercise are two particularly important factors thought to be contributing to the rapidly increasing numbers of people worldwide with Type 2 diabetes. Although it is most often a condition that develops in adults, particularly those aged over 40 years, it is beginning to be diagnosed in younger adults and even in teenagers who are obese.
The amount of insulin that is produced in someone with Type 2 diabetes often decreases over a period of years, and eventually insulin treatment is required. Treatment generally starts with changes in the amounts and types of food eaten and an increase in physical activity, before progressing to tablets and then onto insulin injections.