The goal of treatment at first is to lower your high blood glucose levels. Long-term goals are to prevent problems from diabetes.
The most important way to treat and manage type 2 diabetes is activity and nutrition.
Learn These Skills
Learning diabetes management skills will help you live well with diabetes. These skills help prevent health problems and the need for medical care. Skills include:
- How to test and record your blood glucose
- What to eat and when
- How to take medications, if needed
- How to recognize and treat low and high blood sugar
- How to handle sick days
- Where to buy diabetes supplies and how to store them
It may take several months to learn these skills. Keep learning about diabetes, its complications, and how to control and live with the disease. Stay up-to-date on new research and treatments.
Managing Your Blood Sugar
Checking your blood sugar levels yourself and writing down the results tells you how well you are managing your diabetes. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about how often to check.
To check your blood sugar level, you use a device called a glucose meter. Usually, you prick your finger with a small needle called a lancet. This gives you a tiny drop of blood. You place the blood on a test strip and put the strip into the meter. The meter gives you a reading that tells you the level of your blood sugar.
Your doctor or diabetes educator will help set up a testing schedule for you. Your doctor will help you set a target range for your blood sugar numbers. Keep these factors in mind:
- Most people with type 2 diabetes only need to check their blood sugar once or twice a day.
- If your blood sugar level is under control, you may only need to check it a few times a week.
- You may test yourself when you wake up, before meals, and at bedtime.
- You may need to test more often when you are sick or under stress.
Keep a record of your blood sugar for yourself and your doctor. Based on your numbers, changes may need to be made to your meals, activity or medicines to keep your blood sugar level in the right range.
Diet and Weight Control
Work closely with your doctor, nurse, and dietitian to learn how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you need in your diet. Your meal plans should fit your lifestyle and habits and should include foods that you like.
Managing your weight and having a well-balanced diet are important. Some people with type 2 diabetes can stop taking medicines after losing weight. This does not mean that their diabetes is cured. They still have diabetes.
Very obese patients whose diabetes is not well managed with diet and medicine may consider weight loss (bariatric) surgery.
Regular Physical Activity
Regular activity is important for everyone. It is even more important when you have diabetes. Reasons why exercise is good for your health:
- Lowers your blood sugar level without medicine
- Burns extra calories and fat to help manage your weight
- Improves blood flow and blood pressure
- Increases your energy level
- Improves your ability to handle stress
Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. People with type 2 diabetes may need to take special steps before, during, and after physical activity or exercise.
Medications to Treat Diabetes
If diet and exercise do not help keep your blood sugar at normal or near-normal levels, your doctor may prescribe medication. Since these drugs help lower your blood sugar levels in different ways, your doctor may have you take more than one drug.
Some of the most common types of medication are listed below. They are taken by mouth or injection.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
- DPP IV inhibitors
- Injectable medicines
You may need to take insulin if your blood sugar cannot be controlled with any of the above medicines. Insulin must be injected under the skin using a syringe, insulin pen, or pump. It cannot be taken by mouth because the acid in the stomach destroys insulin.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines or other treatments to reduce your chance of developing some of the more common complications of diabetes, including:
- Eye disease
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease and stroke
People with diabetes are more likely than those without diabetes to have foot problems. Diabetes damages the nerves. This can make you less able to feel pressure on the foot. You many not notice a foot injury until you get a severe infection.
Diabetes can also damage blood vessels. Small sores or breaks in the skin may become deeper skin sores (ulcers). The affected limb may need to be amputated if these skin ulcers do not heal or become larger, deeper or infected.
To prevent problems with your feet:
- Stop smoking if you smoke.
- Improve control of your blood sugar.
- Get a foot exam by your doctor at least twice a year and learn if you have nerve damage.
- Check and care for your feet every day. This is very important when you already have nerve or blood vessel damage or foot problems.
- Make sure you wear the right kind of shoes. Ask your doctor what is right for you.