Injecting with an insulin pen
• How Is Diabetes Treated?
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|How Is Diabetes Treated?
There is no cure for diabetes, instead the condition is managed in 3 ways:
Primary Physician and/or Nurse: 92 percent of diabetics in the U.S. are handled by general doctors, only 8 percent are regularly seen by a specialist. When choosing a doctor, do ask if they are experienced in handling patients with diabetes. This is important because they need to know which diabetes tests you will need from time to time, and when they should send you to see a specialist.
Diabetes Educator: These are healthcare workers specially qualified in training people on how to manage their disease. Trainers should have the letters CDE after their name (Certified Diabetes Educator), so be sure to look out for this. An educator can teach you how to take your medications and test your glucose levels. They will also be given instruction about blood glucose monitoring. Most trainers are accessed through a Diabetes Education Program - ask your primary care doctor to refer you to a program if they don’t mention it.
For type 1 diabetics, treatment is a daily task. As their pancreas does not produce (or not enough) insulin it can be particularly difficult to manage. You will need to follow a stricter diet plan than you are probably used to and plan any physical activity in advance. Also, you will need to take multiple daily insulin injections and check your glucose levels at home several times a day with a glucose monitor. See our guide to buying glucose monitors.
Typically treatment for type 2 diabetics includes diet control, taking regular exercise, performing home blood glucose testing, and in some cases taking oral diabetes drugs and/or insulin shots. Approximately 40 percent of type 2 diabetics require insulin injections - but injections are only usually necessary if the disease has progressed after a number of years. Even then, it may only consist of one injection at night time, and is managed during the day with oral meds. It is not common for newly diagnosed patients to need insulin injections.
Type 1 diabetics cannot control blood sugar levels with oral medications - they need to take insulin shots several times a day. Type 2 diabetics are only prescribed insulin injections if their condition has progressed to the point where oral medications have stopped working. Insulin cannot be taken as a pill - it has to be injected. While many diabetics continue to use the old syringe and vial method to inject their insulin, fortunately today there are some alternatives. The most widely used alternative is an insulin pen (image) - while pens do not eliminate the need for a needle, the needles are shorter and less scary, and they have the added advantage of helping you to manage your dosage. If a person has real problems sticking a needle into themselves everyday, they might try using an insulin jet injector (image). It looks like a fat pen and is held against the skin. When a button is pressed, it emits a powerful jet of air which forces insulin into the skin. These delivery devices are not commonly used because they cost around $1,000 or more. For patients who cannot achieve good glucose control with any of these devices, they may need to consider using an insulin pump (image). This is an external device, about the size of a pager. It is attached to a small syringe which is held is inserted under the skin and held in place with a patch. It emits regular doses of insulin automatically. These devices can cost more than $4,000.
Only type 2 diabetics can use oral pills to manage their disease. While many manage to reduce their blood glucose levels by lifestyle changes, others require oral pills to do this. But even then, pills do not work for everyone. If you've had type 2 diabetes for 10 years or more and pills don't control your blood sugar levels you may need to progress to insulin injections. Occasionally pills can stop working after a few months or years - but this is not necessarily an indication that your diabetes has worsened - doctors don't always know why it happens. Sometimes they recommend a combination of oral meds to kick-start the process again. There are quite a few different types of diabetes pills, your doctors will recommend the best one or combination for you.
Taking daily physical activity will help to regulate your blood sugar levels. Your doctor or dietician will provide a personal plan for you. Typically patients are recommended 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 days a week. This includes walking, cycling and swimming. If you need to lose weight you may be told to exercise for longer.
In the past, diabetics were faced with a very restrictive eating plan. Fortunately things have loosened up a bit in recent years, with doctors recognizing that one size doesn't necessarily fit all. While you may have to make some adjustments in what, when and how often you eat - the news isn't all bad. You should still have some flexibility in deciding which foods you eat and can still include the odd treat. Usually, you will be told to:
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For more related to the condition, see the following:
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