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Work with your healthcare team to determine the right diabetes treatment for you.

If you've just been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be feeling a range of emotions right now—from frustration and anger to denial. The good news, however, is that diabetes can be managed. You may need to make some changes to your lifestyle, and you might begin taking medication, but ultimately, diabetes doesn't have to get in the way of living the life you enjoy.

Diabetes treatments differ for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as by individual. In fact, by working with your healthcare team, you can create a plan that's unique to your needs and lifestyle.

Type 1 diabetes treatments

With type 1 diabetes, your body simply does not produce insulin, the hormone necessary for your body to use the glucose it creates to power your cells.1 As a result, you'll need to "take" insulin, either through injections or an insulin pump. Insulin isn't a cure for diabetes, so unless a person undergoes a pancreas and islet cell transplant to produce insulin again, anyone with type 1 diabetes will require daily insulin doses throughout their lives.

Many people rely on basal-bolus therapy, in which long-acting insulin (or small doses delivered nearly continuously by a pump) provides a "basal" level of insulin throughout the day and night, with additional rapid-acting "bolus" doses to cover any foods eaten.1

In addition, type 1 diabetes treatment requires weighing insulin needs against food intake and physical activity. After all, the carbohydrates in the food you eat are transformed into glucose by your body and delivered throughout your system by the blood. Simply stated, the more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin you'll need to counteract that blood glucose. On the other hand, physical activity can reduce the levels of glucose in your blood. That's where blood sugar monitoring comes in. By testing your blood glucose levels throughout the day, you'll know if your body needs more food, insulin or activity.1

By working with your healthcare team, you'll learn to balance food intake, exercise and different types of insulin to keep your blood sugar in a safe range.1

Type 2 diabetes medications and treatments

If you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor may have a few options for lowering your blood sugar levels. You may be able to keep your numbers in a safe range by changing how you eat or increasing physical activity. There are oral medications that can make your body more sensitive to the insulin it produces or reduce blood glucose by other means. Or you may be prescribed insulin.1

Your doctor will work with you to determine the best approach for you, given any other health issues you might have and how your body responds to various medications.

It's likely that, no matter what approach your healthcare team takes, you'll be encouraged to:1

  • Take steps to ensure you're eating a healthy diet
  • Slim down, if you're overweight
  • Incorporate more physical activity
  • Stop smoking
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly to see if your numbers are in a safe range

Fortunately, you may be referred to a diabetes educator and dietitian to help you navigate these diabetes medications, treatments and lifestyle changes.1

By partnering with your healthcare team to better manage your blood glucose levels, you'll have the best chance of avoiding issues with your eyes, heart, hands and feet down the road.1

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1American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2018 [position statement]. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(1): S1-S172. Available at: Accessed June 25, 2018.

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