Our Approach to Care for Type 2 Diabetes 

Most Americans diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. With Type 2 diabetes, the body cannot use its own insulin effectively, a condition known as insulin resistance. Untreated Type 2 diabetes can affect major organs and lead to serious health problems, including heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, kidney failure, vision impairment and other issues.

Type 2 diabetes is a genetic condition that isn't cured with treatment. If a Type 2 diabetes patient’s elevated blood sugar levels improve in response to dietary changes, exercise and/or medication, it means the treatment is effective. It doesn’t mean the underlying genetic condition has gone away.

Disease Management

Our approach to patient care begins with the understanding that diabetes has a different impact on every patient. We integrate our ongoing research into our clinic, giving our patients access to the most advanced diagnostic and treatment services. Our expertise in genetics and diabetes allows us to examine each patient’s family history and identify candidates for genetic testing, as needed, to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate and effective treatment plans for their diabetes.

We build treatment plans tailored to address each patient’s needs. Our multidisciplinary team is equipped to support patients in managing every aspect of diabetes, from the medical and physical issues to the social and emotional challenges. Because diabetes is a lifelong disease, we approach care with a “life span model” of care. Our diabetes specialists are able to provide care to patients at every life stage. 

Second Opinions

We welcome the opportunity to provide a second opinion on your diagnosis or treatment plan. Our specialists are dedicated to helping you understand your options so you can select the best care plan for your needs. Our team will use previous test results and may conduct additional diagnostic tests such as advanced laboratory analysis, genetic testing, or other methods of evaluation to provide a full evaluation and build an individualized diabetes management plan. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Controllable risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Obesity — about 80 percent of Type 2 diabetics are overweight
  • Physical inactivity

Uncontrollable risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Age — risk increases with age
  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Ethnic background — African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans are at higher risk

Type 2 diabetes usually doesn’t develop as rapidly as Type 1.

While some individuals have no symptoms, symptoms may include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst and/or hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds or sores

Diabetics with other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, thyroid problems, or polycystic ovary syndrome, benefit from customized treatment plans that take into account how best to manage diabetes when other health problems are present. 

Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant can take advantage of our unique diabetes and pregnancy program in partnership with the University of Chicago High-Risk Obstetrics Program. 

Teens with diabetes receive special care through our transitions program that helps them manage their diabetes as they grow into adulthood. Patients who require surgery can receive expert care through University of Chicago programs in transplantation (heart, lung, liver, kidney, and pancreas), cardiac surgery, orthopaedic surgery, vascular surgery, and bariatric (weight loss) surgery. 

Diet & Exercise

Complications from Type 2 diabetes can be greatly improved by lifestyle changes beginning with eating a healthy diet, being physically active and losing extra weight. If these lifestyle changes alone cannot control blood sugar, patients may also need medication or insulin replacement therapy.

Blood Sugar Monitoring & Insulin Replacement Therapy

Regular blood sugar monitoring is essential because even if a patient does not feel symptoms, their blood sugar may be at unhealthy levels, putting the patient at risk for complications. Physicians typically provide the patient with a glucometer — a device that uses blood to determine blood glucose levels. Patients often see their doctors for regular blood tests that show average blood glucose levels for the most recent two to three months. 

Medication may be used to decrease insulin resistance, slow the digestion of food or increase insulin levels in the bloodstream and essentially decrease blood glucose levels after eating. Insulin therapy can be used to increase insulin circulating in the bloodstream.

Our patients have access to the newest glucose sensor technology and monitoring devices. Patients receive one-on-one education on how to use these important devices. Our insulin pump program offers options to select specific technology that best fits each patient's needs.

Contact Us

Our endocrinologists and diabetes educators are here to provide information and answer questions for patients and families 24 hours a day, seven days a week about our patient care programs, educational resources and current clinical research studies.

To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with the UChicago Medicine Kovler Diabetes Center, please call 773-702-2371 or 800-989-6740.

Email our diabetes care team