Type 2 Diabetes 

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood to become higher than normal.

It can be serious if not looked after but it is very treatable and for some people can be prevented or delayed.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by problems with a hormone in the body called insulin.

Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood, keeping it at healthy levels. Insulin is produced by the pancreas - a gland behind the stomach.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood glucose stays too high. This can happen when the body does not produce enough insulin. It can also happen when the body cannot properly use the insulin it produces.

We get glucose from the carbohydrates in our food and drinks. Normally glucose enters our bloodstream, and our insulin made by the pancreas allows the glucose to move into the body's cells to be used for energy. If we cannot make enough insulin, or if our insulin is not working properly, the glucose cannot enter the cells around the body. It stays in the blood and blood glucose levels become higher than normal.

There are some things that put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It's often linked to being overweight, inactive, or having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes. It is helpful to know what the risks are so it can be prevented or delayed.

Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising it.

This is because:

  • symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell

  • some people do not have symptoms

  • symptoms may not appear for some time

The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment lowers your risk of other health problems.


The things that you do on a day to day basis can make a huge difference to the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Treatment includes:

  • eating healthy foods

  • being physically active

  • avoid sitting for long periods of time

  • losing weight if you are overweight

  • taking medicines if needed

Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol also help.

You will need to have more regular check-ups to ensure your health is not affected by diabetes. For example check-ups with your GP, diabetes eye checks and checking your feet.

You will also be encouraged to take an active role in your own care.

As part of your treatment you will be invited to take part in a free diabetes support course.

If you are taking diabetes medicine you can recover some of the costs through the Long-Term Illness Scheme.

What you can do to manage your diabetes:

Be active and sit less

Being active brings big benefits to treating diabetes and protecting your health. It can lower your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Keeping active helps you lose body fat and improves your wellbeing. It is worth the effort to make it a part of your everyday life.

Something is better than nothing! If you are currently inactive, doing some physical activity is better than none.

Be physically active

Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least 5 days a week. Small amounts of exercise all count, for example do 10 minute chunks of activity at a time.

Moderate aerobic activity is activity that gets your heart and lungs working.

Moderate aerobic activity is when:

  • you have increased breathing and heart rate

  • are still able to carry on a conversation ( able to talk but not able to sing)

  • you are warm or sweating slightly at a comfortable pace

Suitable activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, digging in the garden or dancing. Spread your activities throughout the week.

For more health benefits, increase your activity to 60 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week.

Sit less

Try to break up long periods of sitting time for example watching TV or on your computer. Briefly standing or walking helps to lower your blood glucose levels. Get up every 30 minutes and stand or walk for 2 to 3 minutes to help blood glucose levels be healthier.

Strengthen your muscles

Muscle strengthening or resistance exercises are recommended for you. If possible, try to do these exercises 2 to 3 days a week, spread across the week.

You are not alone if you are diagnosed with diabetes, currently there are about 225,000 people with diabetes in Ireland and the number is rising.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that you can learn to treat and manage yourself with your day to day choices. Poorly treated diabetes can cause serious health problems if it is not looked after.

The HSE supports a number of group courses for people with the condition. The courses can help you manage your diabetes and live a healthy life. Courses are run in local community or hospital venues.

The courses have lots of up to date information about many aspects of treating and living with your diabetes, including:

  • healthy eating

  • being active

  • managing weight

  • looking after your eyes and feet

Your GP may recommend you take part in a course as part of your treatment.

These courses are:

After your diagnosis

Usually after your diagnosis:

  • you may need to change your diet, be more active and consider losing some excess weight if necessary

  • your GP may prescribe medicine - it can take time to get used to the medicine and to find the right dose for you

  • you'll have regular type 2 diabetes check-ups with your GP or practice nurse, at least twice a year

  • you'll be told to look out for any new changes in your body and to tell your GP or practice nurse