Skip to main content

Type 2 Diabetes in Adults: New Diagnosis


Type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects how your body uses glucose (sugar). Normally, when the blood sugar level increases, the pancreas makes more insulin. Insulin helps move sugar out of the blood so it can be used for energy. Type 2 diabetes develops because either the body cannot make enough insulin, or it cannot use the insulin correctly. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled to prevent damage to your heart, blood vessels, and other organs.


Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You vomit for more than 2 hours.
  • You have trouble staying awake or focusing.
  • You are shaking or sweating.
  • You feel weak or more tired than usual.
  • You have blurred or double vision.
  • Your breath has a fruity, sweet smell.

Call your doctor or care team if:

  • Your arms and legs are swollen.
  • You have an upset stomach and cannot eat the foods on your meal plan.
  • You feel dizzy, have headaches, or are easily irritated.
  • Your skin is red, warm, dry, or swollen.
  • You have a wound that does not heal.
  • You have numbness in your arms or legs.
  • You have trouble coping with your illness, or you feel anxious or depressed.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Diabetes medicines or insulin may be given to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood.
  • Blood pressure medicine may be given to lower your blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol-lowering medicine may be given to prevent heart disease.
  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Diabetes education:

You may have providers come to your house and teach you more about diabetes. You may instead attend classes with others who have diabetes. You will be taught the following:

  • About nutrition: A dietitian will help you make a meal plan to keep your blood sugar level steady. You will learn how food affects your blood sugar levels. You will also learn to keep track of sugar and starchy foods (carbohydrates). Do not skip meals. Your blood sugar level may drop too low if you have taken diabetes medicine and do not eat. You may be taught to use the plate method when eating. The plate method will help with portion control. With the plate method, ½ of your plate contains vegetables. The other half is divided so that ¼ contains protein or meat, and ¼ contains starches, such as potatoes.
    Plate Method
  • Physical activity and diabetes: You will learn why physical activity, such as walking, is important. You and your care team provider will make a plan for your activity. Your care team provider will tell you what a healthy weight will be for you. He or she will help you make a plan to get to that weight and stay there. Maintain a healthy weight to help delay or prevent complications of diabetes.
  • How to check your blood sugar level: You will learn what your blood sugar level should be. You will be given information on when to check your blood sugar level. You will learn what to do if your level is too high or too low. Write down the times of your checks and your levels. Take them to all follow-up appointments.
  • About diabetes medicine: Oral diabetes medicine may be given to help control your blood sugar levels. Your healthcare provider will teach you how and when to take your diabetes medicine. You will also be taught about side effects oral diabetes medicine can cause.
  • If you need insulin: Insulin may be added if oral diabetes medicine becomes less effective over time. You and your family members will be taught how to draw up and give insulin. You will learn how much insulin you need and what time to inject insulin. You will be taught when to not give insulin. You will also be taught what to do if your blood sugar level drops too low. This may happen if you take insulin and do not eat the right amount of carbohydrates. Your education team will also teach you how to dispose of needles and syringes.

Other ways to help manage type 2 diabetes:

  • Talk to your care team if you have increased stress about your diagnosis. When you feel stressed about your diagnosis, it can cause you not to take care of yourself properly. Your care team can help by offering tips about self-care. Your care team may suggest you talk to a mental health provider. The provider can listen and offer help with self-care issues.
  • Check your feet each day for sores. Wear shoes and socks that fit correctly. Do not trim your toenails. Go to a podiatrist. Ask your care team for more information about foot care.
    Diabetic Foot Care
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage and make diabetes harder to manage. Ask your care team provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your care team provider before you use these products.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juices. Sugary drinks cause high blood sugar and cause an increase in your weight. Your healthcare provider may tell you that diet drinks do not help with weight loss.
  • Know the risks if you choose to drink alcohol. Alcohol can cause your blood sugar levels to be low if you use insulin. Alcohol can cause high blood sugar levels and weight gain if you drink too much. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Check your blood pressure as directed. You may have high blood pressure when you have type 2 diabetes. Talk to your care team provider about your blood pressure goals. Together you can create a plan to lower your blood pressure if needed and keep it in a healthy range. The plan may include lifestyle changes or medicines. A normal blood pressure is 119/79 or lower. A normal blood pressure can help prevent or delay certain complications from diabetes. Examples include retinopathy (eye damage) and kidney damage.
    How to take a Blood Pressure
  • Wear medical alert identification. Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have diabetes. Ask your care team provider where to get these items.
    Medical Alert Jewelry
  • Ask about vaccines. You have a higher risk for serious illness if you get the flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis. Ask your care team provider if you should get a flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis B vaccine, and when to get the vaccine.

Follow up with your care team providers as directed:

You may need to return to have your A1c checked every 3 months. You will need to have your feet checked during at least 1 visit each year. You will need an eye exam 1 time each year to check for retinopathy. You will also need urine tests every year to check for kidney problems. You may need tests to monitor for heart disease, such as an EKG, stress test, blood pressure monitoring, and blood tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes in Adults: New Diagnosis (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.