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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Diabetes Mellitus: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus

Alternate Names : Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Treatment depends on the type of diabetes that is present. A person with type 1 diabetes will most likely need insulin shots each day. These shots replace the insulin that the pancreas cannot make on its own. A proper diet is also a key to staying healthy.

Gestational diabetes is also usually treated with diet and insulin shots as needed.

The most effective treatment available for type 2 diabetes is a change in lifestyle, including the following:

  • Weight loss. Loss of as little as 10 to 15 pounds can help keep blood glucose under control.
  • Healthy eating. A healthy diet can help with weight loss. And that can prevent the need for medicine.
  • Regular exercise. Walking only 30 minutes a day can lead to better glucose control.
  • A person with type 2 diabetes may also be treated with oral medicines and/or insulin shots. Diabetes pills can work in four ways.

  • They can stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin.
  • They can help the cells in the body use insulin and glucose better.
  • They can keep the starches that are eaten from being broken down into glucose in your intestines.
  • They can reduce the amount of glucose that is released from the liver.
  • Treating the underlying condition or stopping a certain medicine may correct diabetes that is caused by medicine or an illness. If this is not possible, diet, exercise, and pills or shots are used to control the blood glucose.

    Careful monitoring and management help keep diabetes under control and reduce the risk of long-term effects. A person with diabetes should:

  • monitor his or her blood glucose levels at home
  • take medicines as prescribed by the doctor
  • know how to recognize and treat hypoglycemia, which is low blood glucose
  • get regular eye checkups that include an examination of the retina after the pupil of the eye has been dilated with eye drops
  • do thorough foot care on a daily basis
  • follow a plan to monitor and treat changing blood glucose levels when sick or under stress
  • follow a healthy diet
  • have regular checkups with the doctor
  • get a pneumonia shot
  • get a flu shot each fall
  • Treating the complications of diabetes may involve many different specialists. For example, a person with diabetes may need to see eye, heart, foot, hormone, and circulation specialists. Dieticians also help people with diabetes by designing a healthy eating plan. Dieticians can also suggest healthy calorie intake levels and types of foods to eat.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects depend on the treatments used. If a person has too much insulin in his or her body, the blood glucose levels can drop too low. This condition, called hypoglycemia, can cause the following symptoms:

  • confusion
  • hunger
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • shakiness
  • sweating
  • The usual treatment for low blood glucose is to drink a sweet beverage or eat a sweet food. If low blood glucose goes untreated, a person may pass out or have seizures. Emergency medical care is crucial in this situation.

    Some of the oral medicines used for type 2 diabetes may cause weight loss or gain, allergic reactions, or liver damage. Some may also cause low blood glucose levels.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    Diabetes generally cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with careful management and treatment. A person with diabetes will need to have close medical follow-up throughout his or her life to control blood glucose levels and prevent serious complications.

    How is the disease monitored?

    A person with diabetes should keep all of his or her appointments with his or her primary doctor, as well as other scheduled specialists. Physical exams, blood tests, urine tests, foot and skin care, routine eye exams, and routine dental care are all part of basic care for a person with diabetes. The main goal of treatment is to keep blood glucose levels as close to a healthy range as is safely possible. In general, ideal ranges of blood glucose levels are 80 to 120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) before meals and 100 to 140 mg/dL at bedtime. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.

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    Diabetes Mellitus: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 06/01/02

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