By Benjamin Zwierzchowski, M.D.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and about 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes, largely occurring in people over age 45, with more children, teens, and young adults being diagnosed yearly.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows blood sugar into the body’s cells to be used as energy. However, when someone has type 2 diabetes, their cells don’t respond normally to insulin, causing insulin resistance, and the need for the pancreas to make more insulin. When the pancreas can’t keep up with making all of the extra insulin, the body’s blood sugar rises. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and causes prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, which can also lead to heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

Most people do not know they have symptoms of type 2 diabetes, since symptoms tend to develop over a long period of time. This makes it important to be aware of your risk factors. They include being overweight; 45 years or older; having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes; being physically inactive; having had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby over 9 pounds; being African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, or Pacific Islander; and having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. If you have any of these risk factors, your doctor will want to order a blood test to determine your blood sugar levels.

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be scary, but the first thing you need to know is that you will be asked to take responsibility for your own health, along with the support of your health care team, family, and others close to you. Your health care team includes your primary care doctor, foot doctor, dentist, eye doctor, registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes educator, and pharmacist.

You also need to know that you may be able to manage your diabetes with lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and being active. Your doctor may need to prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help you manage your blood sugar and avoid complications. You will also need to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at levels your doctor sets for you, and will need to check your blood sugar regularly. Even if taking medications, you will need to follow a healthy diet, exercise, get enough sleep, minimize your stress, and see your health care team regularly to stay on track.

Locally, Buffalo Medical Group physicians provide consultations and top-level care for type 2 diabetes. They specialize in preventive medicine and nutrition, and work closely with certified dieticians/nutritionists, and diabetes educators, as well as supervision of insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring.

Benjamin Zwierzchowski, M.D. is a primary care physician at Buffalo Medical Group. Visit to learn more. To make an appointment with Dr. Zwierzchowski, call 716-656-4459.