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What is the treatment for diabetes?

Those recently diagnosed with diabetes, often ask "how will this change my life?" or "what is the treatment for diabetes?".  Treatment depends on diabetes diagnosis.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% diabetes diagnoses.  Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin being produced but not working as it should.  Insulin injections are not common unless there are concerns of uncontrolled blood sugar.

Treatment for Type 2 diabetes includes:

  • Weight loss if overweight.  Current research supports a 5% weight loss can help in tighter blood sugar control.
  • Physical activity for overall health and improved insulin sensitivity.  The current recommendation is exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes each day.  Some suggest 45 minutes physical exercise 6 days per week is optimal for heart health.
  • Food plan supporting blood sugar control and a healthy body weight.  This includes carbohydrates spread evenly throughout the day, low fat diet, limited sodium, and limited alcohol.
  • Oral medications if needed.  These medications are taken by mouth instead of injection.

Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections to replace insulin not produced by the body.  Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes diagnoses.

People with Type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin and need injections.   Meals and insulin injections need to be planned so that the correct amount of food (sugar) in the bloodstream "meets up" with insulin.  If too much food is eaten, high blood sugar occurs as a result of not having enough insulin.  Not consuming enough food leads to low blood sugar as a result of having too much insulin.  Insulin injections are intended to cover a planned diet.

Exercise must be planned carefully with Type 1 diabetes.  If one plans to exercise, insulin and food may be adjusted to meet calories burned.  Skipping planned exercise can affect blood sugar.

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, the main goal is to normalize blood sugar so complications are limited.  Testing blood sugar on a regular basis is key in treatment of diabetes to control blood sugar.  Check with your diabetes educator or doctor for more information on what treatment is right for you and how often you should be checking your blood sugar.

Plan your treatment.  Learn about diet, exercise, medications, and testing blood sugar to make the most of your treatment.

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