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Managing Diabetes

Careful diabetes management can help people with diabetes (PWD) feel better and prevent further health challenges. For everyone with diabetes, healthy eating, exercise, and weight management are key to managing the condition.

Currently, there's no cure for either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, early in the course of type 2 diabetes, it's possible to manage diabetes to a level where symptoms go away and A1Cs reach normal levels – this effectively “reverses” the progression of type 2 diabetes, putting diabetes into remission. However, diabetes remission is not the same as curing type 2 diabetes, and you must carefully maintain healthy habits to keep diabetes from returning. 

Diabetes-related health challenges

Diabetes increases a person’s risk of developing medical complications. Over time, the high blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes can damage the body, affecting the nervous system, blood vessels, eyes, heart, and kidneys. These complications impact quality of life and increase a person’s risk for events like a heart attack or stroke, but careful blood glucose management decreases the chance that these complications will occur.

Learn more about diabetes-related health challenges:

Diabetes drugs 

People with diabetes often take medication to help stabilize their blood sugar levels. People with type 1 diabetes usually must take insulin daily, while people with type 2 diabetes may use other medications. People with type 2 diabetes will commonly use a combination of medications to help manage their diabetes.

These are the most common diabetes drugs used to lower blood sugar levels:

Types of insulin

There are two main types of insulin: long-acting or basal insulin and rapid-acting or prandial (meal-time) insulin. 

  • Long-acting insulin is taken once or twice per day to provide a constant, low level of insulin action.While it helps keep blood sugars at a consistent level when someone is  not eating, it can’t cover glucose spikes after a meal. 
  • Rapid-acting insulin is taken before meals and acts rapidly in the body, stabilizing blood sugar levels after eating.
  • Insulin devices like insulin pumps or pods only use rapid-acting insulin.

People who use insulin may also need to take glucagon if blood glucose levels drop too low. Glucagon is a drug that can quickly raise blood glucose levels. (Learn more about glucagon and hypoglycemia here).

Diabetes devices 

People with diabetes use technology to help monitor blood sugar levels. These are the most commonly used categories of diabetes devices:

  • Blood glucose meters are portable devices designed to measure your blood glucose level at a specific moment in time. 
  • Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) measure glucose levels continuously, in real-time, through a sensor attached to your skin.
  • Injection pens are used to inject a precise amount of a diabetes drug, without the need for a syringe.
  • Insulin pumps and pods are worn on the body to deliver insulin without the need for injections.
  • Automated insulin delivery (AID) systems combine continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and smart algorithms to measure glucose levels and adjust insulin delivery via the pump to keep blood sugar levels as stable as possible throughout the day and night.
  • Mobile coaching services help people with diabetes connect to healthcare professionals online. The goal of mobile coaching is to advise people on their health and improve diabetes management through access to 24/7 remote care.

More Diabetes Resources

Time in Range (TIR): The percentage of time a person spends with their blood glucose levels in a safe target range – usually between 70 mg/dl and 180 mg/dl.

Diet and nutritionNutrition is important for everyone, with or without diabetes. But for people with diabetes, what you eat greatly affects your blood sugar levels, Time in Range, long-term health outcomes, and your potential for weight gain. Healthy eating habits can help lead to positive short- and long-term health outcomes.

ExercisePhysical activity, even walking after meals, can help reduce blood sugar levels. Read expert exercise recommendations for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes here.

Access to care: Accessing medication and treatment may be a challenge for people with diabetes. Find resources on affording care and navigating health insurance. 

Weight lossLosing weight and building muscle reduces insulin resistance, which is one of the underlying factors that cause type 2 diabetes. That’s why weight management – through diet and exercise – is especially important for managing type 2 diabetes.