Tips for Managing Type 1 and 2 Diabetes at Home

  • Medical Author:

    Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideBlood Sugar Swings: Tips for Managing Diabetes & Glucose Levels

Blood Sugar Swings: Tips for Managing Diabetes & Glucose Levels

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body produces no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or insufficient insulin (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is a chemical (hormone) produced and secreted by the pancreas. Insulin is essential for all parts of the body to properly store and use nutrients (glucose, proteins, and fat). Insulin helps the nutrients to enter the cells of the body. Insulin allows cells to transfer sugar (glucose) from the blood into cells, and this glucose is used to generate the energy necessary to fuel cellular activities. When insulin is absent or ineffective, cells import inadequate amounts of glucose, a starvation process that causes the liver to release more glucose into the blood in an attempt to feed other tissues. Since this additional glucose still cannot enter the cells, glucose levels in the blood rise. As this glucose-rich blood is filtered by the kidneys, excess sugar enters the urine, accompanied by extra water. High levels of sugar in the blood and urine cause the symptoms and signs of diabetes, such as frequent urination and excessive thirst.

What is the treatment for diabetes?

The appropriate treatment for an individual depends on the type of diabetes and its severity. The goal of therapy is to control blood glucose levels, in order to prevent the immediate signs and symptoms of high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia), as well as prevent the long-term complications of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is managed with a combination of exercise, diet and medication. It is first treated with weight reduction, diabetic diet, and exercise. When these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugars, oral medications are used. If oral medications are still insufficient, insulin therapy, or other newer injectable therapies are considered.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus requires insulin in addition to exercise, and a diabetic diet.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/22/2016

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