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What is type 2 diabetes?

If you have type 2 diabetes it means your pancreas is no longer producing enough insulin, or the insulin you are producing is not working effectively (your body has become resistant).

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that develops over a period of years. As your body becomes resistant to insulin your pancreas will work harder and harder to produce more insulin so it can process the glucose in your bloodstream. Over time the cells in your pancreas can become worn out, while your body’s resistance to insulin continues to grow.

This means that type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition. Over time you may need medication, and in some cases insulin, to manage your blood glucose levels.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

There are a number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes including having family members with diabetes, your cultural background and leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can take a very long time to appear, which means you could be living with it for a long time before you are diagnosed. It usually develops in people over the age of 45, although it is becoming increasingly common in younger people.

Regular physical activity, following a healthy eating plan and having regular health checks can help you reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed, these measures can also help you to live well with diabetes and reduce the risk of developing complications.

Check out our easy to use online assessment tool to see if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes.

To find out more read our factsheet, understanding type 2 diabetes.

Need help or advice?

If you’d like more information or guidance about living with type 2 diabetes, speak to a member of your diabetes healthcare team or contact the Diabetes NSW & ACT Helpline on 1300 342 238 and ask to speak to a diabetes educator.

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