Type 2 diabetes strikes people of all ages, and early symptoms are subtle. In fact, about one out of three people with type 2 diabetes don't know they have it. Diabetes is a chronic condition that thwarts the body's ability to change food into energy. This allows sugar levels to build up in the blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease, loss of vision, and other serious complications.

Insulin: Turning Glucose Into Energy

1) After eating, the stomach breaks carbohydrates down into sugars, including glucose. 2) Glucose enters the bloodstream and stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas. 3) Insulin and glucose travel in the blood to all the body's cells. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells and be used as fuel. Excess glucose is stored in the liver.

Type 2 Diabetes

In diabetes, the cells cannot absorb glucose properly. That means glucose levels in the blood become elevated. With insulin resistance, the body makes excess insulin but the muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use or respond properly to insulin. With long-standing, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes the pancreas will reduce the amount of insulin it produces.

Diabetes Warning Sign: Thirst

One of the first symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be an increase in thirst. This is often accompanied by additional problems, including dry mouth, increased appetite, frequent urination - sometimes as often as every hour - and unusual weight loss or gain.

Diabetes Warning Sign: Headaches

As blood sugar levels become more abnormal, additional symptoms may include headaches, blurred vision, and fatigue.

Diabetes Warning Sign: Infections

In most cases, type 2 diabetes is not discovered until it takes a noticeable toll on health.
One red flag is troubling infections, such as:
Cuts or sores that are slow to heal.
Frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infections.
Itchy skin, especially in the groin area.

Risk Factors You Can Control

Being overweight, defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 25.
Sedentary lifestyle.
Abnormal cholesterol and blood fats, such as HDL "good" cholesterol lower than
35 mg/dL or a triglyceride level over 250 mg/dL.
High blood pressure greater than 140 /90 in adults.

Risk Factors You Can't Control

Race or ethnicity: Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asians have a higher than average risk.
Family history of diabetes: Having a parent or sibling with diabetes boosts your risk.
Age: Being 45 and older increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.

The more risk factors you have, the greater your odds of developing type 2 diabetes.

Risk Factors for Women
Having gestational diabetes when you're pregnant puts you at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on. Women who give birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds are also at risk. Having a history of polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes.

Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

A simple blood test can diagnose diabetes. The A1C test gives a snapshot of your blood glucose level over the past two to three months. An A1C level of 6.5% or more is consistent with the diagnosis of diabetes. A fasting plasma glucose test is another option. You must not eat for eight hours before
the test. A result above 126 is considered diabetes. An oral glucose challenge test with a two-hour blood test may also help your doctor make a diagnosis