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Progression of Type 2 Diabetes

For most people, type 2 diabetes is not a stable disease -- it’s a progressive one. It often changes over time, and your treatment also needs to change.

How diabetes progresses

The longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is that cells in your pancreas are unable to release the insulin your body needs. This important hormone helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Your cells can often produce more insulin at first, but they can’t keep up year after year, and they eventually stop making insulin.

When you’re first diagnosed, you may be able to control your blood sugar levels by exercising and changing your diet. Over time, however, your cells can’t keep producing enough insulin. You may need oral medications to help, and these may eventually not be enough to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Because the disease is progressive, you and your doctor may need to adjust your treatment.

It’s unlikely that the same treatment that worked when you were first diagnosed will continue to be effective enough year after year. If you find that your blood sugar levels aren’t as well controlled as in the past, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It just means that your body has become less able to produce the insulin your body needs to effectively control your blood sugar.

Changes in your medication

You will probably have to change and adjust your medications to make up for this reduced amount of insulin. Many people eventually have to take insulin to control their blood sugar levels. You’ll give yourself one or more injections (shots) each day to make sure your body has the insulin it needs. Your doctor will help determine the dosage you need. This too, may change over time as your diabetes progresses.

By taking your medicine as directed by your doctor, you can help keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Delaying the progression of diabetes

The following will also help you delay the progression of your diabetes:


A healthy, well balanced diet will make it easier for you to control your blood sugar. Some foods, such as carbohydrates, can make your blood sugar rise quickly, so they should be eaten in moderation. These include sweets, sugar sweetened beverages, fruits, breads, potatoes, rice and pasta. Regular healthy meals and snacks balanced with protein, fat and carbohydrate will help keep your blood sugar levels from going too high or low.


Exercise makes it easier to control your blood sugar levels and slow the progression of your diabetes. Muscles are able to use glucose when you exercise, so less of it remains in your blood. And it also makes your body less resistant to insulin, letting your cells use glucose more effectively. Aim for regular exercise to help keep blood sugar under good control.

Weight loss

The majority of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. Excess fat makes your body more resistant to insulin. By losing weight, your body will be able to use insulin better. It can also help you avoid some complications related to diabetes, such as high cholesterol and heart disease. Exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose weight if you need to.

The fact that diabetes is a progressive disease shouldn’t be discouraging. It just means that over time, your treatment plan may need to be adjusted. Seeing your doctor regularly will help ensure that you’re on the right track and allow you to make the adjustments needed to keep your diabetes under the best possible control.


The contents of DiabetesOutlook.com are intended solely for informational purposes and do not replace the advice of your physician or diabetes care team. You should not rely on any information provided by DiabetesOutlook.com without also consulting your physician. DiabetesOutlook.com maintains all information collected in accordance with applicable law.

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