Living with Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes Treatment


With type 2 diabetes, your body gradually loses the ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Over time, your cells become resistant to insulin. This hormone helps you absorb sugar out of your blood and use it for energy. At the same time, many people stop producing insulin or don't make enough. As a result, sugar, or glucose, starts to accumulate in your bloodstream. This can damage your blood vessels and internal organs if it's not managed, leading to severe or even life-threatening complications.

While doctors don't know exactly what causes this disease, having excess weight or living a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk.

Fortunately, there is treatment for type 2 diabetes. By working with your healthcare provider and making lifestyle changes, you can manage your diabetes and keep blood sugar levels under control, preventing serious health problems.

 

Type 2 Diagnosis

There are several tests your healthcare provider might use to diagnose type 2 diabetes. These include the A1C test (also called the glycated hemoglobin test), a random blood sugar test, and a fasting blood sugar test.

 

Type 2 After Diagnosis

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, your healthcare provider might order additional tests to determine if you have type 1 or type 2. Depending on how far your diabetes has progressed, they may also want to screen you for things like high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and other common health problems related to diabetes.

After a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, it's essential to work with your care provider and start treatment right away. The earlier you start managing your diabetes, the better chance you have to prevent severe complications and stay healthy.

 

Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Options

Managing diabetes involves a combination of medical treatment and lifestyle changes.

Healthy Eating

Your care team may include a dietitian who can work with you to make sure you are eating a healthy diet. This may include eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber, nutritious foods; cutting out sugary drinks, processed foods, sweets, and refined carbs; and replacing saturated fats with healthy fats like olive oil. It's also important to eat regular meals and snacks to keep blood sugar levels stable. You may also need to eat smaller portion sizes and fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight.

Physical Activity

Exercise is an integral part of treating type 2 diabetes because physical activity can help regulate blood sugar levels. At the same time, spending long periods sitting down can make your diabetes worse, so it's essential to move around. Aim for about 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity like walking, running, dancing, or cycling most days of the week, plus two or three sessions of strength training or other resistance exercises like weight lifting.

Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program to ensure it's safe for your health conditions.

Weight Loss

If you have excess weight, losing some of it can bring health benefits. In fact, losing even 5% of your body weight can improve your body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. The benefits improve with more dramatic weight loss

It's important to lose weight at a healthy pace, so work with your healthcare team to develop a weight loss plan.

Monitoring Blood Sugar

People with type-2 diabetes need to carefully monitor their blood sugar to ensure their levels are not too high or too low. Most people do this at home with a blood glucose meter, which takes a drop of your blood and measures how much sugar is in it. You may need to check your blood sugar levels once or twice a day or before you exercise.

Medications

There are several medications your doctor might prescribe that can help your body use insulin more efficiently and keep blood sugars under control. These may include:

  • Metformin, which can make cells more sensitive to insulin, as well as lower the amount of glucose released by the liver.
  • Sulfonylureas and glinides, which can boost insulin production.
  • Thiazolidinediones, which can improve insulin sensitivity.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists help lower glucose levels in the blood.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors, which can help the body excrete excess glucose in the urine.

Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help manage other health conditions related to diabetes, such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Insulin Therapy

While insulin therapy is most commonly associated with type-1 diabetes, it is sometimes used in people with type-2 diabetes. If your body stops producing insulin or isn't producing enough, your doctor may prescribe insulin therapy to keep your blood sugar levels stable. You may need to increase or adjust your blood glucose monitoring to determine how much or what kind of insulin you need to regulate your glucose levels each day.

Weight Loss Surgery

If obesity is contributing to your diabetes or making it hard to manage your blood sugar levels, weight loss surgery may be an option. These surgeries can help you lose a significant amount of weight by physically limiting the amount of food you can eat. For many people, weight loss surgery is an effective tool to support and enforce lifestyle changes to improve their health and quality of life.

Alternative Medicine

Many people find that alternative therapies can support their type-2 diabetes treatment and help alleviate some of the symptoms of diabetes. Therapies like acupuncture, acupressure, and massage can promote relaxation, improve circulation, and help with problems like nerve pain. Stress can contribute to issues like high blood pressure, so many people with type-2 diabetes find meditation or mindful breathing helpful. Practices like yoga and tai chi can also help with stress management while supporting healthy physical activity.

While some modalities may be helpful, others may have no effect, and some may be harmful. Some dietary supplements can be dangerous when taken in high doses, or they may cause a drug interaction with one of your medications, so it's important to always talk to your doctor about any alternative therapies you may want to try.

Managing Diabetes

While type-2 diabetes is a serious health condition, it can be managed. With treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage your type-2 diabetes, keep blood sugar levels under control, prevent complications, and stay healthy and active for years to come.

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation's What is Diabetes? brochure has important information about type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and more.
Get more answers to your questions about type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes symptoms and treatments. (In Spanish: ¿Que es La Diabetes?).
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A Guide for School Personnel and Child Care Providers

Educate teachers, school personnel and other child care providers about taking care of your child with type 1 diabetes. Download this helpful guide now.