So, your doctor has confirmed your diabetes diagnosis. Now what? Even though diabetes is a tricky disease, there is a lot you can do to help control and monitor the condition. Recent medical advances have resulted in a wide variety of diabetes treatment options that make living with the condition easier and more manageable. It will take some adjusting, but with these diabetes treatment options, you can still continue to live a healthy, active, and happy life.
Glucose, or blood sugar, monitoring helps patients with diabetes manage the condition. Blood glucose monitoring means checking your blood for the amount of sugar, or glucose, circulating through your body. This will help you make decisions about what and when to eat, medications, and physical activity. Active blood glucose monitoring can also help you prevent serious conditions such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). People with type 1 diabetes must check their blood sugar multiple times every day. People with type 2 diabetes may have a little more flexibility, depending on how well their diabetes is controlled, but every person with diabetes should ideally check it more than once a day.
To test your blood sugar, you’ll need a glucose meter, a small device that uses a blood sample to measure the amount of glucose in your system. Today’s meters make obtaining a blood sample easier than before. You can take a sample from less sensitive areas of your body, such as your fingertip, upper arm, or thigh.
Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are a new kind of technology that allow you to constantly be checking your blood sugar. Worn outside of your body, a CGM uses a tiny sensor to check the glucose levels in your tissue fluid. Users can program an alarm to go off when blood sugar levels get too low or go too high. Because CGMs aren’t as accurate and reliable as glucose meters, it’s important users confirm their blood sugar level with a traditional meter before making any important treatment changes.
Insulin is one of the most common treatments for diabetes. An insulin injection replaces the insulin people’s bodies lack when they have diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day. Those with type 2 and gestational diabetes may take insulin or another kind of diabetes treatment.
When it comes to taking insulin, there are three key words you should know: onset, peak time, and duration. Onset is the amount of time it takes insulin to reach the bloodstream and start lowering your blood sugar level. Peaktime occurs when insulin is working at its max. Finally, duration refers to how long the injection will continue to lower your blood glucose. There are four main types of insulin injections. Each one relates to how long it takes insulin to react in the body. Rapid-acting insulin begins to work in about 15 minutes, while long-acting insulin lowers glucose steadily over the course of 24 hours.
Medications for type 2 diabetes
In the past few years, new classes of drugs have been approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Here is a brief overview of some that your doctor will likely recommend:
Sulfonylureas help the pancreas produce more insulin.
Biguanides help lower blood sugar levels by preventing the liver from producing glucose.
Meglitinides stimulate beta cells to release insulin. It’s important to note that many diabetes medications, such as this class, should not mix with alcohol.
Thiazolidinediones help insulin work better in muscle and fat tissue. These drugs also help stop the production of insulin in the liver.
DPP-4 Inhibitors prevent the breakdown of GLP-1, a naturally-occurring compound that lowers blood sugar levels.
SGLT2 Inhibitors helps the kidneys reabsorb glucose instead of letting it pass through the body.
Combination therapy involves a combination of the above drugs working together to help treat type 2 diabetes. Because all of the drugs work in different ways, there are a variety of combinations that can be used.
Your daily routine has the biggest impact on your blood sugar level and whether or not your diabetes is well controlled. It may take some time, but making the following lifestyle changes can help improve your diabetes management. For people with type 2 diabetes, certain lifestyle changes can even make some symptoms of diabetes go away.
Food– It’s important to learn which foods raise your blood sugar quickly. Carb counting, or learning how to calculate the amount of carbohydrates in your meals, will help you learn which foods can cause a blood sugar spike. For people with type 2 diabetes, monitoring portion sizes and eating more fruits and vegetables can promote healthy weight loss.
Exercise– Regular physical activity not only improves your mood and confidence but it can also help keep your blood sugar level at bay. Exercise is important for everyone€”that includes people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The Mayo Clinic recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of activity each week, or roughly 30 minutes a day. Aim for exercises that get your heart pumping, such as going for a brisk walk, taking a dance class, or playing outside with your kids.
Stress– Being diagnosed with diabetes is a stressful time. Managing the disease can also take a toll on your mental health. Unfortunately, this stress can impact your blood sugar levels. To help put your mind at ease, try joining a local diabetes support group through diabetes organizations such as the American Diabetes Association. There, you can meet people and share experiences with those who are going through the same challenges. Other popular stress-busters include going for a walk, listening to music, getting a good night’s sleep, keeping a journal, and talking to your loved ones.