Diabetes Treatment

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Diabetes treatment facts

  • Controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels is the major goal of diabetes treatment, in order to prevent complications of the disease.
  • Type 1 diabetes is managed with insulin as well as dietary changes and exercise.
  • Type 2 diabetes may be managed with non-insulin medications, insulin, weight reduction, or dietary changes.
  • The choice of medications for type 2 diabetes is individualized, taking into account:
    • the effectiveness and side effect profile of each medication,
    • the patient's underlying health status,
    • any medication compliance issues, and
    • cost to the patient or health-care system.
  • Medications for type 2 diabetes can work in different ways to reduce blood glucose levels. They may:
    • increase insulin sensitivity,
    • increase glucose excretion,
    • decrease absorption of carbohydrates from the digestive tract, or
    • work through other mechanisms.
  • Medications for type 2 diabetes are often used in combination.
  • Different methods of delivering insulin include:
  • Proper nutrition is a part of any diabetes care plan. There is no one specific "diabetic diet" that is recommended for all individuals.
  • Pancreas transplantation is an area of active study for the treatment of diabetes.

What is the treatment for diabetes?

The major goal in treating type 1 and type 2 diabetes is to control blood sugar (glucose) levels within the normal range, with minimal excursions to low or high levels.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is treated with:

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is treated:

  • First with weight reduction, a diabetic diet, and exercise
  • Oral medications are prescribed when these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugars of type 2 diabetes.
  • If oral medications become ineffective treatment with insulin is initiated.

Diabetic Diet

Adherence to a diabetic diet is a critical aspect of controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has provided guidelines for diabetic diets.

Each ADA diet is:

  • balanced,
  • nutritious, and
  • low in fat, cholesterol, and simple sugars.

The total daily calories are evenly divided into three meals (with snacks for youth with type 1 diabetes). Over the past two years the ADA has lifted the absolute ban on simple sugars for people with diabetes. Small amounts of simple sugars are now allowed when consumed with a complex meal.

Weight reduction and exercise

Weight reduction and exercise are important treatments for type 2 diabetes. Weight reduction and exercise increase the body's sensitivity to insulin, thus helping to control blood sugar elevations.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2015

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Diabetes Treatment - Effective Treatments Question: Please describe what treatments have been effective for your diabetes.
Diabetes - Diet Question: Have you found diet, exercise, and medication effective to control your diabetes?
Diabetes Treatment - Medications Question: Please discuss the medications you take to manage your diabetes.
Diabetes Treatment - Insulin Pump Question: Do you use an insulin pump to treat your diabetes? Please describe the pros and cons of this type of treatment.
Diabetes Treatment - Insulin Pens Question: Describe how you use pre-filled insulin pens and the environment in which they are most convenient for you.
Diabetes Treatment - Insulin Question: What type of diabetes do you have, and what methods of insulin delivery have worked best for you?

Diabetes Diet Meal Plan

There is no specific diet that is recommended for all people with diabetes; however, the foundation of a diabetes meal plan is the same for everyone. Recommended strategies include the consumption of a variety of foods such as:

  • whole grains,
  • fruits,
  • non-fat dairy products,
  • beans, and
  • lean meats or vegetarian substitutes.