Contact Us
Simple, accurate health tests for the home and the workplace.

Type 2 Diabetes


Paper with words diabetes type 2 and glasses.






Type 2 diabetes, also known as non insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 usually appears in older people (over the age of 40) however, as levels of obesity in the UK are rising, more and more younger people are being diagnosed.

Type 2 happens either when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to properly control the levels of glucose in your blood, or when the body cannot use the insulin it produces properly.

What causes Type 2 diabetes?

The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although the following risk factors appear to play a role:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • If you are of African-Caribbean or South Asian origin
  • If you are overweight or who have a large waist size
  • Women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes

Symptoms are similar for both types of diabetes however type 2 diabetes can develop more slowly than type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms include:

  • Constant thirst and dry mouth
  • The need to urinate more than usual (especially at night)
  • Weight loss
  • Genital itching
  • Extreme tiredness, fatigue and weakness
  • Tendency to get minor infections e.g. boils or thrush
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness of the hands or feet

Testing for Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is often diagnosed by a doctor during routine urine or blood tests, when the test results show the presence of glucose. Normally, there should be no sugar in urine but when the levels of glucose in the blood rise above normal, glucose is spilled into the urine by the kidneys. This is why diabetes symptoms, such as excessive urination and genital itching, occur. If sugar is present in urine it is a good indicator of diabetes.

If an initial screening test shows glucose is present in urine, a blood test will typically follow to measure the  actual amount of glucose in the blood.

If the level of glucose present is borderline, your doctor may want you to undergo further tests including a HbA1c test which looks at long term sugar levels.

You may also be advised to test your blood glucose levels to see how certain foods or activities affect your glucose levels. These tests can be done at home using any of the products below.

If these tests confirm that you have diabetes, you may be referred to a specialised diabetes clinic for specialist help and guidance.

Treatment for Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled by eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and getting regular exercise.

If lifestyle changes fail to improve your glucose levels, you may require medication.

Common medication includes metformin tablets, which are available under many different brand names. Metformin reduces the amount of glucose the liver produces and helps the body to respond normally to insulin. It can also improve the way your muscles utilise glucose.

Other medicines include:

  • Sulfonylurea – there are several types of this medication and they work by boosting your insulin levels
  • Nateglinide and repaglinide – these are similar to sulfonylureas as they also boost your insulin levels
  • Dipeptidly pepidase 4 inhibitors (also known as incretin enhancers) – these work to reduce your blood glucose levels
  • Pioglitazone – this increases the sensitivity of your body’s cells to insulin thereby helping to lower blood glucose
  • Acarbose – this works by delaying the absorption of carbohydrates to reduce blood glucose levels

If diet and tablets don’t prove to be effective in controlling your blood glucose levels, you may need insulin injections. Your doctor will assess and monitor the treatments to identify which is most suitable for you.

Type 2 diabetes complications

Diabetes can cause serious health complications if glucose levels become too high (hyperglycaemia) or too low (hypoglycaemia). Untreated diabetes, or diabetes that is not controlled properly, can also cause foot ulcers, vision problems, kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease or stroke.

Read more about diabetes complications

How to prevent Type 2 diabetes

You can prevent getting Type 2 diabetes through positive lifestyle choices.

  • Aim to eat a healthy, low-carb diet – try reducing your portion sizes and aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day – check out the low carb programme from
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly – after exercise, your muscles gradually replenish their sugar stores by taking in sugar from the blood. This helps to lower blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity
  • Quit smoking
  • Take measures to reduce stress
  • Get good sleep
  • Only drink alcohol in moderation

Interested in learning more? Read these articles:

Understanding diabetes

Living with diabetes

Types of diabetes