How is diabetes managed?
While there is no cure for diabetes, many treatments are available to help control blood glucose levels. For type 2 diabetes, a healthy lifestyle also plays a big role in managing blood glucose levels and lowering the risk of complications.1 In this article, we take a top-line look at how type 2 diabetes is managed.
The aim of managing diabetes
The aim of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to your ‘target’ range as possible. Your healthcare professional will discuss with you your personalised target blood glucose range – this may differ from the target range of other people you know with diabetes.2, 3
Maintaining blood glucose levels within the target range generally requires using a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.
Lifestyle changes for diabetes
Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular exercise and stopping smoking, are important for every person with diabetes.1 For some people with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes may be all they need to manage their blood glucose levels, at least for a while.2
So how do lifestyle changes help with diabetes?
- Healthy eating helps manage blood glucose levels and body weight.2 Learn more about eating right for diabetes.
- Exercising helps insulin work more effectively, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.2 Learn more about exercise in diabetes and get started with an exercise plan today!
- Stopping smoking can greatly improve the health of anyone who smokes. But did you know that smoking can increase blood glucose levels and make it harder to manage diabetes?4 Smoking also increases the already higher risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes.4 If you smoke, learn more about the harmful effects of smoking for people with diabetes, and tips on helping you quit.
Medication for diabetes
For most people with diabetes, healthy eating and exercise alone are not enough to keep the blood glucose levels down, especially as the condition progresses with time.2 If lifestyle changes are not enough, your healthcare professional will prescribe medication to manage your blood glucose levels and help prevent complications.2
Many different types of medications are available to help manage diabetes. Your healthcare professional will prescribe the most appropriate medication (or combination of medications) for you. The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) offers a useful factsheet with information about all the different kinds of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, and tips for taking your medications.
Lifestyle and medication work together
Taking medication for diabetes does not mean we no longer need to create a healthy lifestyle. In fact, healthy lifestyle habits should be used alongside any medication to help achieve the best results in managing blood glucose and lowering the risk of complications.
Diabetes management plans
A diabetes management plan is a personalised plan of care for your diabetes, involving all members of your healthcare team. Every person with diabetes should develop a diabetes management plan with their healthcare professional.
A diabetes management plan includes information about your target blood glucose range, along with information about your medication and lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise). Your management plan should be reviewed and updated regularly.
How do I know if my diabetes management is working?
Your healthcare professional will monitor your blood glucose levels at regular check-ups to make sure your diabetes management plan is working for you. If a treatment isn’t working for you, or you are experiencing side effects, your healthcare professional can advise on alternative options and update your management plan.
Outside of the clinic check-ups, you can also check your own blood glucose levels regularly at home using a small, handheld device. Checking your own glucose levels (self-monitoring) can be really helpful in managing your diabetes, as it will help you see the effect of various foods, exercise and medications on your blood glucose levels.3
Your healthcare team can advise you on how to get a glucose monitor and how to use it to help you manage your blood glucose. The NDSS also offers some great information on how, when and why to monitor your blood glucose levels.
- Better Health Channel. Diabetes. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes. Accessed 28 October 2018.
- Diabetes Australia. Managing type 2 diabetes. Available at: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/managing-type-2. Accessed 28 October 2018.
- National Diabetes Services Scheme. Blood glucose monitoring. Available at: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/73993018-8019-43fc-9ec3-2b4d6380af47.pdf. Accessed 28 October 2018.
- Diabetes Australia. Smoking, pre-diabetes and diabetes. Available at: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/575c27fe-ca55-43c4-afea-88c8150a613e.pdf. Accessed 28 October 2018.