How should Diabetes be treated?
The objective of a treatment for Diabetes is to do what the body should normally do, that is, to maintain a proper balance of insulin and glucose in your blood.
How is Diabetes controlled?
Diabetes is controlled by maintaining blood glucose levels as close to the normal range (70-110 mg/dl) as possible, at all times of the day (both during fasting and after meals). The four basic elements of Diabetes control are:
- Healthy Eating
People with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, need to follow a nutritional plan predesigned by your treating physician or nutritionist, so that any physical activity they do and any medicines prescribed (if necessary), can maintain proper balance of their blood glucose levels.
- Increase Physical Activity and Exercise
People with Diabetes should follow an exercise plan prescribed by their doctor based on their specific requirements, along with medication (if necessary). This is so they can offset the amount of ingested glucose and so that blood glucose levels are well controlled.
a. Insulin: People with Type 1 Diabetes, need to inject one or more types of insulin several times a day to metabolize the glucose they ingest (insulin dependent).
People with Type 2 Diabetes, may require insulin in some cases, as a complementary treatment for oral medications, should their medication be insufficient to achieve optimal control of blood glucose levels (insulin requesting).
b. Oral medications: Generally, people with Type 2 Diabetes, in addition to healthy eating and increased exercise, need oral medications to control their blood glucose levels effectively. There are different types of oral medications; each having a specific function to reduce blood glucose levels based on what causes it.
c. Non-Insulin injectable medicines: In some cases, people with Type 2 Diabetes, require a new type of injectable drug called GLP-1 Analogues, in addition to oral medications, to keep blood glucose levels under control.
- Diabetes Education: People with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, need to receive proper education and information regarding Diabetes treatment. This will enable them to obtain the skills they need to maintain a proper balance, at all times, in the three factors mentioned above: healthy eating, increased physical activity or exercise, and medication.
The basic rule is that food causes blood sugar levels to rise, and that exercise and insulin or other medications to control Diabetes decrease these levels. Diabetes control is a constant balance of these three elements, and to achieve this efficiently, it’s necessary to educate the patient about Diabetes. If this balance isn’t achieved, there’s a risk for two Diabetes-related emergencies to happen, which are:
– Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level)
– Hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar level).
If blood sugar levels remain very high for a long period, this can result in a dangerous condition called Ketoacidosis.
It is therefore very important for every person with Diabetes to check their glucose levels frequently. This will show how the glucose levels are, at all times, and this will allow them to make the necessary decisions to modify on time, any imbalance between the different treatment elements. Additionally, it’s very important to take an A1c hemoglobin test, which will show the average blood sugar level (glucose) during the past 3 or 4 months.
If high blood sugar levels aren’t controlled for several years, several dreaded chronic complications associated to the poor control of Diabetes can develop. Fortunately, it’s in our hands to exercise optimal control of our blood glucose levels so we can enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.