Diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Find out more as to how it can be treated…

The treatment of diabetes

Discovering that you have a chronic condition can be frightening. Many people feel overwhelmed when they’re diagnosed with diabetes. However, there is no need to panic. The doctor and healthcare team will have extensive experience in treating diabetes and helping you control your sugar levels. There’s also plenty that you can do to improve your health and wellbeing.

Making a difference

Many people with Type 2 diabetes can control the condition with diet and exercise alone. Losing weight to reach an optimum BMI, eating a healthy balanced diet and living an active life can mean that no medication is needed.

Cut back on sugary snacks, fast food and refined carbs like white bread, cakes and biscuits. Instead tuck into fresh veggies, fish, lean meat, pulses, and whole grains. Ask your GP for referral to a dietician if you’re struggling.

It can be difficult to exercise when illness or arthritis affect mobility. However, you don’t have to hit the gym, instead try and stay active. Enjoy walks, swims, dancing or trips to the park with the grandkids. If you can, choose the stairs instead of the lift but always ensure that you feel stable and safe.

Treating diabetes

Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, treatment is needed to get the glucose levels down and help you stay healthy. Type 2 diabetes is progressive and becomes worse with time, so you may need help to control the condition.

There are a number of medications and different tablets suit different people, so your doctor may need to try a few before finding the right combination of drugs for you.

Try to remember that taking medication doesn’t mean you’re free to sit on the sofa and eat whatever you fancy, it’s still important to keep up a healthy lifestyle.

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Medication and monitoring

It can be difficult to manage the medication and careful glucose monitoring that is important for good diabetic control, especially when someone is also unwell or affected by dementia. A dosette box with labelled compartments, can make it easier. A carer can also be employed to come into the home and support with medication and monitoring.

Tablets for diabetes

  • Metformin reduces the amount of glucose produced by the liver and helps the body respond to the insulin it produces.
  • Sulphonylureas like Glibenclamide stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin, so that the body can use the energy from food and store any excess.
  • Arcabose slows down the rate at which your bowel absorbs starchy foods, this means that sugar levels increase more gradually after a meal. Prandial glucose regulators stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin. They are a little like sulphonylureas, but act more quickly and for a shorter time. They’re usually prescribed to be taken thirty minutes before a meal.
  • Glitazones protect the cells of the pancreas, reduce the body’s resistance to the action of insulin and increase sensitivity so that the insulin can work more effectively.
  • Gliptins block an enzyme called DPP-4 that breaks down the hormone incretin. This means there is more incretin in your body. With more incretin, you will produce more insulin and less glucose.

Injections for diabetes

  • Incretin mimetics given by once or twice-weekly injection. They increase the level of incretins. These help the body produce insulin and reduce glucose production.
  • Insulin for diabetes – Insulin is broken down in your stomach so can’t be taken as a tablet. People with Type 1 diabetes produce no insulin and need insulin injections from the day of diagnosis. But some people with Type 2 also need the extra control that insulin offers. No one likes the idea of injections, but the needle is very fine and there are simple pen-like devices that make injection easier and pretty pain-free.
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With a combination of lifestyle changes and the right medical support, diabetes is a very manageable condition.

If you or someone you know is struggling to control diabetes, either by itself or because of other conditions such as dementia, HomeTouch can help.

Our carers are on hand to provide a friendly face and a helping hand. They’re available for a few hours a day to full time live in care. Whatever the requirements, we can help you to find the care and companionship you or your loved one needs to help them to live safely and happily in their own home.

If you’re unsure about the prospect of care, that’s ok. You can download our impartial guide to elderly care (which is applicable no matter the age of your loved one) and get to know the many options available. There’s no harm in knowing more, and a carer might be able to provide you and your loved one with the support you need.

Find out more about Diabetes:

Dr Jane Gilbert

Jane has over 20 years’ experience as a health writer and TV presenter. Jane writes on a wide variety of clinical and care topics – from explaining the latest studies and research to unpacking conditions and discussing treatment options. Jane holds a MBBS degree from Imperial College, London and spent seven years working in the NHS.

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