Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

Hourglass with sweet treats inside. A metaphor for Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use insulin as well as it should.

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Certain people develop type 2 diabetes mellitus, and as a result, their bodies do not make enough insulin or cannot use insulin as well as they should.1

Insulin is a hormone made by your body to help it use sugar from the carbohydrates you eat (e.g. bread, pasta).2 Therefore, without insulin or too little of it, your blood sugar levels (blood glucose levels, blood sugar) keep rising (hyperglycemia). Subsequently, this causes a range of diabetes symptoms and may cause long-term health problems.1,3

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Common symptoms of prediabetes are similar to type 2 diabetes symptoms and include increased thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue.

Risk factors for prediabetes include being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes, and being over the age of 45.

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Illustrations about the common symptoms of type 2 diabetes and hyperglycemia

If you are worried about type 2 diabetes, then speak to your doctor.2 Knowing you have T2DM is an essential first step in taking control of the condition, rather than letting the condition take control of you.2,4

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Up to 15 % of South Africans over the age of 25 have type 2 diabetes.5 Knowing if you are one of them can help you take control of the condition.2


Getting a prompt diagnosis and starting treatment and self-care for T2DM thereafter can help you feel better and prevent future problems.1,3,4,6


If left undiagnosed, untreated or poorly controlled, type 2 diabetes can eventually cause several complications which are unpleasant and can be life-threatening.6 These include heart problems, stroke and blindness.6


It is important to bring your blood sugar levels under control in order to reduce your risk of complications.3,6

Illustrations on the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and high blood glucose levels

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With type 2 diabetes mellitus, your health is in your hands:7 In fact, following your prescribed treatment and choosing a healthy lifestyle and diet is essential in managing your condition.1 For some, changes to diet and lifestyle can even ‘reverse’ T2DM.8


To bring your blood sugar levels under control:9

  • Get physically active (30 minutes/day)
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose weight if overweight
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Look after your feet!
  • Attend all medical appointments
  • Eat a diabetes-friendly diet (diabetes diet)


Eat a healthy diet9

  • If overweight, reduce the calories in your food
  • Replace saturated fats (e.g. dairy products) with unsaturated fats (e.g. avocado, nuts, olive and vegetable oils)
  • Eat dietary fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, whole grains)
  • Avoid excessive alcohol
  • Avoid added sugar, particularly sugary drinks
  • Educate yourself about healthy food choices and stick to a healthy, balanced diet

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While self-care is important, remember you are not alone in caring for yourself. It is important to enlist the help of others.9

Type 2 diabetes support from your healthcare provider:

They will explain and advise on lifestyle and diet changes, what medicines to take, and when and how to take them.9 They may also refer you to a diabetes specialist for further support.10


Various medications may be prescribed.9 Taking the right medicines now may reduce your risk of future complications.11

A recent study shows that taking a combination of two medicines (combination therapy) at the start of treatment can improve blood sugar control and delay the need to take insulin.11 Whatever your recommended treatment, the key is to follow it as prescribed.3

Support from your loved ones:

Support from family and friends as you live with type 2 diabetes may benefit your health.12  Together with your loved ones, take time to learn as much as possible about the condition, how to manage it, and how they can best support you.13

Take Control
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Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can feel frightening and overwhelming,13 but you are not alone.5 Diagnosis and early treatment can help you feel good today – and in the future.3

Take control of your blood sugars and your health today!

Find out more:
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  • The Diabetes SA website provides information about the condition and also offers phone and chat support
  • The Sweet Life is a community for people living with diabetes which also offers support to those living alongside people with diabetes


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