Training modules (NHS Scotland)

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (formerly referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, NIDDM for short, and adult-onset diabetes) is a lifelong condition in which the body is unable to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood properly, and is a condition in which tissues in the body fail to use insulin properly, known as insulin resistance. This happens when your body’s tissues don’t respond well to insulin and so can’t make use of the glucose in the blood for energy. An individual with type 2 diabetes can still make some insulin, but not enough to control their blood sugar levels. The individuals pancreas responds by producing more insulin and their liver, where glucose is stored, releases more glucose. Eventually the individuals pancreas becomes less able to produce enough insulin and your tissues become more resistant to insulin. As a result, blood glucose levels slowly start to rise.

In Type 2 diabetes the signs and symptoms may not be so obvious, as the condition develops slowly over a period of years and may only be picked up in a routine medical check up. Symptoms are quickly relieved once diabetes is treated and under control.

Type 2 diabetes is often initially managed by increasing exercise and dietary modifications but as the condition progresses, medications may be required.

It can take several years for blood glucose to reach a level that causes symptoms of type 2 diabetes resulting in many individuals being unaware they have the condition.

Type 2 diabetes usually appears in individuals over the age of 40, though in South Asian and black people, who are at greater risk, it often appears from the age of 25. It is also increasingly becoming more common in children, adolescents and young people of all ethnicities primarily due to obesity.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all individuals with diabetes and is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition to this, medication and/or insulin is often required.