Illustration Diabetes Typ 2


Type 2 diabetes: often unnoticed for a long time

Published on April 04, 2024

Type 2 diabetes is a widespread disease among overweight people. However, a family predisposition plays just as important a role as excess weight.

It is a disease of patience. “Type 2 diabetes often begins insidiously with unspecific symptoms and can go unnoticed for years,” explains Claudia Cavelti-Weder, Head Physician at the Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition. “The diagnosis is often due to a chance finding.” Anyone who notices large amounts of urine, is thirsty and inexplicably loses weight is usually unable to correctly classify the warning signs.

When insulin is missing

The pancreas produces the vital hormone insulin. It transports sugar from the blood into the body’s cells, thereby lowering blood sugar levels. This can lead to malfunctions:

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and occurs particularly in young people. The immune system destroys the very cells that are necessary for insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance. The pancreas does produce insulin. However, the usual insulin dose no longer manages to lower the blood sugar.

Well treatable

However, insulin resistance is reversible. “If you reduce your weight and adjust your lifestyle in good time, you have a good chance of significantly improving your blood sugar levels,” says Claudia Cavelti-Weder encouragingly. It is often enough to lose a few kilograms so that the insulin is sufficient to process the blood sugar again.

The USZ’s internal diabetes and nutrition counseling services provide valuable support in weight reduction. Because turning your life upside down can be a major inhibition. “As a rule, we don’t start insulin therapy for people with type 2 diabetes, but instead focus on lifestyle changes,” explains Ruth Hirschmann, Head of Diabetes Counseling at the USZ.

Insulin as the last option

If lifestyle changes do not bring any improvement, there are various medications available to treat type 2 diabetes, with insulin being the last option. “However, as this is a chronic, progressive disease, insulin and the use of a glucose sensor may still be necessary at a later stage.” By changing long-standing behavioral patterns, weight can be reduced and maintained in the long term. “But not everything is banned,” emphasizes nutritionist Noela Vontobel.

An assessment is always followed by individual nutritional therapy. However, it takes time for behavioral patterns to change. Once the first few kilos have been lost and the first improvements have been made, nothing stands in the way of sustainably healthy eating habits.

Diabetes mellitus - Treatment

The aim of treating both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus is to keep blood glucose levels at a normal level. Although diabetes cannot be cured, well-controlled patients can lead a symptom-free life.

To the offer

Claudia Cavelti-Weder, MPH, PD Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition

Tel. +41 44 255 36 20
Specialties: Diabetes mellitus, Overweight/ nutrition, Dyslipidemia

Ruth Hirschmann

Abteilungsleiterin Pflege

Tel. +41 44 255 27 68