In type 2 diabetes, your body isn’t able to effectively use insulin to bring glucose into your cells. This causes your body to rely on alternative energy sources in your tissues, muscles, and organs. This is a chain reaction that can cause a variety of symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes can develop slowly. The symptoms may be mild and easy to dismiss at first. The early symptoms may include:
- constant hunger
- a lack of energy
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
- blurry vision
- pain, tingling, or numbness in your hands or feet
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe and can cause some potentially dangerous complications.
If your blood glucose levels have been high for a long time, the complications can include:
- eye problems (diabetic retinopathy)
- feelings of numbness in your extremities, or neuropathy
- kidney disease (nephropathy)
- gum disease
- heart attack or stroke
Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone. Your pancreas produces it and releases it when you eat. Insulin helps transport glucose from your bloodstream to cells throughout your body, where it’s used for energy.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin. Your body is no longer using the hormone efficiently. This forces your pancreas to work harder to make more insulin.
Over time, this can damage cells in your pancreas. Eventually, your pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin.
If you don’t produce enough insulin or if your body doesn’t use it efficiently, glucose builds up in your bloodstream. This leaves your body’s cells starved for energy. Doctors don’t know exactly what triggers this series of events. It may have to do with cell dysfunction in the pancreas or with cell signaling and regulation.
While lifestyle choices are typically what trigger type 2 diabetes, you may be more likely to be diagnosedTrusted Source with it if:
- there’s a genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes in your family
- there’s a genetic predisposition to developing obesity in your family, which can increase the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes
- you are at least 45 years old.
While the definitive trigger of type 2 diabetes is your body’s resistance to insulin, there’s usually a combination of factors that increase your risk of that resistance occurring.