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Young female patient managing type 2 diabetes with insulin patch

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Type 2 diabetes

If you have Type 2 diabetes, you’re in good company. More than 3 million people in the United States are living with Type 2 diabetes. It’s a common disease — but you can get the individualized care you need.

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Making up nearly 95 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases, Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body produces insulin, a hormone that gives your cells energy by processing sugar from carbohydrates in your food. However, either your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin for your body or your body can’t use the insulin correctly because you have an insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops during adulthood, but it can occur in your teens. The good news? With proper treatment, you can manage Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms

Think you might be at risk of Type 2 diabetes? Know the symptoms. That’s key to getting the treatment you need and improving your quality of life.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Being extremely tired
  • Getting frequent infections 
  • Needing to urinate often
  • Having a lot of itching or yeast infections
  • Patches of dark skin
  • Cuts and wounds that heal slowly


Having these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean you have Type 2 diabetes. But it’s important to talk to your doctor to rule out any health issues.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors

Certain behaviors, genetics and risk factors can increase your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • Being overweight: Having excess body fat — especially around the waist — puts you at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Physical inactivity: Living a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.
  • Family and personal medical history: If you have a family member with Type 2 diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing it. Several chronic health conditions also raise your risk of Type 2 diabetes, including:
    • High blood pressure
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    • Prediabetes
    • Gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant)
  • Age: Being 45 or older increases your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Race: If you are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, you have a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.

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Diagnosing Type 2 diabetes

Your doctor may do several blood tests to check for Type 2 diabetes. These tests may include:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. You will not need to fast for this test.
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, which measures your fasting blood sugar levels. To take this test, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything other than water for at least 8 hours beforehand. This test is typically done in the morning.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which measures your blood sugar levels two hours before and after drinking a sweet beverage. This test shows how your body processes sugar.
  • Random blood sugar test, which tests your blood at any time of day when you’re showing severe symptoms of diabetes.

Healthier eating — and controlling diabetes — is within reach

When you have healthy food, you can live a healthier life. Your A1C (or blood sugar) level is better maintained when you eat well, making diabetes easier to deal with. That’s why, if you live in northeast or central Pennsylvania, you may be eligible to receive “food as medicine” from Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy® — a great way of managing Type 2 diabetes.

When you enroll in this free program, we write you a “prescription” for healthy, nutritious food. Each week, you’ll go home with a bag full of wholesome ingredients: produce, whole grains, canned goods, lean meats and fish. But it doesn’t stop there.

You’ll also get:

  • Recipes: Step-by-step directions to make a lighter lunch or a slimmed-down supper.
  • Education classes: Learn the connection between nutrition and wellness, as well as cooking tips.
  • Nutrition coaching: Learn about diabetes, healthy blood sugar numbers and how what you eat affects your A1C.


And you won’t just get food for you — we’ll provide enough for your whole family. Each week, you’ll get 10 meals’ worth of food, enough to cook 2 meals a day for 5 days. Learn how to eat healthy, without worrying about your budget. You may even be able to better control your diabetes.

Learn more about Fresh Food Farmacy.

Type 2 diabetes treatment

Living with Type 2 diabetes? You can learn to live even better. Through a holistic approach that puts you at the center, you can find the right balance of diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, glucose monitoring and medication.

Your team of diabetes specialists includes endocrinologists, primary care doctors, diabetes educators, clinical nutritionists, pharmacists, community health assistants and specialty physicians (just to name a few) — all working together to empower you along your journey to better health.

You’re unique — and so are your care needs. So we may recommend one or more of the following treatments for you:

Diabetes education

Understanding diabetes is the key to successful treatment. Get the resources and tools you need to set yourself up for success, including instructions for monitoring your blood glucose levels at home.
Lifestyle coaching

Regular exercise and a healthy diet are important parts of managing Type 2 diabetes. Trained educators will help you understand the ins and outs of a healthy lifestyle.

Diet changes, activity and lifestyle changes can all reduce your Type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Advanced carbohydrate counting

Carbs have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels. Understanding that impact can help you treat and stabilize your overall blood glucose levels. Learn how to match your carb intake to your rapid-acting mealtime insulin dosage to keep your blood sugar where it should be.
Medication management

Medications can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Your doctor will work with you to find the medication that’s right for you. Some common medications used to treat Type 2 diabetes include:

  • DPP-4 inhibitors, which reduce blood sugar levels.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists, which slow digestion while lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Insulin, which helps your body process carbohydrates. The longer you have Type 2 diabetes, the more likely you’ll need insulin.
  • Meglitinides, which help your pancreas make more insulin.
  • Metformin, which lowers the production of glucose in your liver to help your body use insulin better.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors, which keep your kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into your bloodstream.
  • Sulfonylureas, which help your body produce more insulin.

Diabetes care at Geisinger

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or you’re at risk for developing it later, there are lots of resources to help you make healthy choices and take an active role in your care. We’re here for you, every step of the way.

  • Dedicated care team – After you receive a diabetes diagnosis, we don’t just write you a prescription and send you on your way. You’ll have a large network of doctors, nurses and specialists involved in your care — from your primary care doctor to an endocrinologist, a dietitian, a pharmacist, a cardiologist and a community health assistant.
  • Diabetes educators – Your diabetes educator will teach you about the importance of a healthy diet, show you how to check and monitor your blood sugar, provide you with resources for self-management, and get to know you and your family personally. They’re here to answer your questions and help you live your best life.
  • Diabetes classes – Our free education classes cover different topics each week, like diet and exercise, diabetes monitoring and how to lower your risk of complications. These sessions are a great way to connect with others and take charge of your health. Find diabetes classes near me.
  • Clinical nutrition assistance – Whether through group appointments, culinary medicine cooking classes, our Fresh Food Farmacy program or nutritional counseling, you’ll learn how what you eat affects your blood sugar — and how you can make healthier food choices.