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Type 2 Diabetes

A condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body's inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in children, teens, and young people.

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(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a metabolic disease that causes sugar to collect in the blood stream. The severity of diabetes can vary quite a bit: Some people only have to make minor changes to their lifestyle after they are diagnosed. Just losing a little weight and getting some more exercise may be enough for them to manage their diabetes.

Other people who have type 2 diabetes need more permanent therapy that involves taking tablets or insulin. It is then especially important to have a good understanding of the disease and know what they can do to stay healthy.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or at a young age. Type 1 diabetes is a result of a damaged pancreas that leaves the organ producing either very little insulin or none at all.

Type 2 diabetes is quite different. It used to be referred to as "adult-onset" diabetes because it is often diagnosed later in life. In type 2 diabetes, it becomes increasingly difficult for the body's cells to absorb and use the insulin. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes. About 90 % of people who have diabetes have type 2 diabetes... Read more about Type 2 Diabetes

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Sodium‐glucose cotransporter (SGLT) 2 inhibitors for prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its associated complications in people at risk for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus

The SGLT 2 inhibitors (such as canagliflozin, dapagliflozin and empagliflozin) are glucose‐lowering drugs that reduce blood glucose levels by increasing the secretion of glucose from the kidneys to the urine. SGLT 2 inhibitors were recently approved for the treatment of diabetes in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is currently not known whether SGLT 2 inhibitors should be prescribed for people with raised blood glucose levels who do not meet the criteria for having type 2 diabetes. We wanted to find out whether these drugs would prevent or only delay the development of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, we wanted to analyse the effects of SGLT 2 inhibitors on patient‐important outcomes such as complications of diabetes (for example kidney and eye disease, heart attacks, strokes), death from any cause, health‐related quality of life and side effects of the medications.

Pharmacotherapy for weight loss in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Obesity is closely related to type 2 diabetes and weight reduction is an important part of the care delivered to obese persons with diabetes. This review of drugs for weight loss among adults with type 2 diabetes revealed weight loss of between 2.0 and 5.1 kg for fluoxetine, orlistat and sibutramine at follow‐up of up to 57 weeks. The long‐term effects remain uncertain. Adverse events were common in all three drugs: gastrointestinal side effects with orlistat; tremor, somnolence, and sweating with fluoxetine; and palpitations with sibutramine. There were few studies examining other drugs used for weight loss in populations with diabetes.

Chinese herbal medicines for type 2 diabetes mellitus

We are still waiting for firm evidence on Chinese herbal medicines for treatment of non‐insulin‐dependent diabetes. Although the use of herbal medicines for treatment of diabetes has a long history especially in the East, current evidence cannot warrant to support the routine use in clinical practice. This systematic review evaluates the effects of various herbal preparations (including single herbs or mixtures of different herbs) for treating people with type 2 diabetes. The review shows that some herbal medicines lower blood sugar and relieving symptoms in patients with diabetes. However, the methodological quality of the clinical trials evaluating these herbs is generally poor. The analyses also indicate that trials with positive findings are more likely to be associated with exaggerated effects. However, the trials did not report significant adverse effects. In conclusion, herbal medicines should not be recommended for routine use in diabetic patients of type 2 diabetes until we get scientifically sound trials. Testing the herbs in larger, well‐designed trials is needed in order to establish the necessary evidence for their use.

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Summaries for consumers

Sodium‐glucose cotransporter (SGLT) 2 inhibitors for prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its associated complications in people at risk for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus

The SGLT 2 inhibitors (such as canagliflozin, dapagliflozin and empagliflozin) are glucose‐lowering drugs that reduce blood glucose levels by increasing the secretion of glucose from the kidneys to the urine. SGLT 2 inhibitors were recently approved for the treatment of diabetes in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is currently not known whether SGLT 2 inhibitors should be prescribed for people with raised blood glucose levels who do not meet the criteria for having type 2 diabetes. We wanted to find out whether these drugs would prevent or only delay the development of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, we wanted to analyse the effects of SGLT 2 inhibitors on patient‐important outcomes such as complications of diabetes (for example kidney and eye disease, heart attacks, strokes), death from any cause, health‐related quality of life and side effects of the medications.

Pharmacotherapy for weight loss in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Obesity is closely related to type 2 diabetes and weight reduction is an important part of the care delivered to obese persons with diabetes. This review of drugs for weight loss among adults with type 2 diabetes revealed weight loss of between 2.0 and 5.1 kg for fluoxetine, orlistat and sibutramine at follow‐up of up to 57 weeks. The long‐term effects remain uncertain. Adverse events were common in all three drugs: gastrointestinal side effects with orlistat; tremor, somnolence, and sweating with fluoxetine; and palpitations with sibutramine. There were few studies examining other drugs used for weight loss in populations with diabetes.

Chinese herbal medicines for type 2 diabetes mellitus

We are still waiting for firm evidence on Chinese herbal medicines for treatment of non‐insulin‐dependent diabetes. Although the use of herbal medicines for treatment of diabetes has a long history especially in the East, current evidence cannot warrant to support the routine use in clinical practice. This systematic review evaluates the effects of various herbal preparations (including single herbs or mixtures of different herbs) for treating people with type 2 diabetes. The review shows that some herbal medicines lower blood sugar and relieving symptoms in patients with diabetes. However, the methodological quality of the clinical trials evaluating these herbs is generally poor. The analyses also indicate that trials with positive findings are more likely to be associated with exaggerated effects. However, the trials did not report significant adverse effects. In conclusion, herbal medicines should not be recommended for routine use in diabetic patients of type 2 diabetes until we get scientifically sound trials. Testing the herbs in larger, well‐designed trials is needed in order to establish the necessary evidence for their use.

See all (275)

Terms to know

Blood Glucose
The main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Checking blood glucose levels by using a blood glucose meter or blood glucose test strips that change color when touched by a blood sample in order to manage diabetes.
Glucagon
A hormone produced by the pancreas that increases the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Insulin
A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin is taken by injection or other means.
Insulin Resistance
The body's inability to respond to and use the insulin it produces. Insulin resistance may be linked to obesity, hypertension, and high levels of fat in the blood.
Pancreas
An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

More about Type 2 Diabetes

Photo of an adult

Also called: Type II diabetes, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, Adult-onset diabetes

See Also: Type 1 Diabetes

Other terms to know: See all 6
Blood Glucose, Blood Glucose Monitoring, Glucagon

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