Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body doesn’t use insulin properly. This causes blood sugar levels to rise, which can lead to other health problems.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may prescribe one or more treatments to help manage your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of complications.
Read on to more learn about some of the most common treatments and recommendations for people who are newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.
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Many people who are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight. When that’s the case, a doctor will usually recommend weight loss as one aspect of an overall treatment plan.
For many people who are living with type 2 diabetes, losing 5 to 10 percent of bodyweight may help lower blood sugar levels. In turn, this reduces the need for diabetes medications, report researchers in the journal Diabetes Care.
Research suggests that weight loss may also reduce your risk of heart disease, which is more common in people with type 2 diabetes than the general population.
To promote weight loss, your doctor may encourage you to cut calories from your snacks and meals. They may also advise you to get more exercise.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend weight-loss surgery. This is also known as metabolic or bariatric surgery.
Your doctor might recommend changes to your diet to help manage your blood sugar levels and weight. Eating a well-balanced diet is also important for your overall health.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating with type 2 diabetes.
In general, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends:
- eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats
- evenly spacing your meals throughout the day
- not skipping meals if you’re on the medications that can cause blood sugar to go too low
- not eating too much
If you need help making changes to your diet, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a registered dietitian who can help you develop a healthy eating plan.
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Your doctor might encourage you to exercise more to help manage your blood sugar levels and weight, as well as your risk for complications from type 2 diabetes.
According to the ADA, most adults with type 2 diabetes should:
- get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise per week, spread over multiple days
- complete two to three sessions of resistance exercise or strength training per week, spread over non-consecutive days
- try to limit the amount of time you spend engaging in sedentary behaviors
- try not to go more than two days in a row without physical activity
Depending on your health, your doctor might encourage you to set different physical activity targets. In some cases, they might advise you to avoid certain activities.
To help you develop an exercise plan that’s safe for you, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist.
You might be able to manage your blood sugar with lifestyle changes alone.
But over time, many people with type 2 diabetes need medication to manage the condition.
Depending on your health history and needs, your doctor might prescribe one or more of the following:
- oral medications
- insulin, which may be injected or inhaled
- other injectable drugs, such as a GLP-1 receptor agonist or amylin analogue
In most cases, your doctor will start by prescribing oral medication. Over time, you might need to add insulin or other injectable drugs to your treatment plan.
To learn more about your medication options, talk to your doctor. They can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks of different medications.
The main goal of diabetes treatment is to keep your blood sugar levels in target range.
If your blood sugar falls too low or rises too high, it can cause health problems.
To help monitor your blood sugar levels, your doctor will order blood work on a regular basis. They can use a test known as the A1C test to assess your average blood sugar levels.
They might also advise you to check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis at home.
To check your blood sugar at home, you can prick your fingertip and test your blood with a blood glucose monitor. Or, you can invest in a continuous glucose monitor, which continuously tracks your blood sugar levels using a small sensor inserted under your skin.
To manage type 2 diabetes, your doctor may encourage you to make changes to your diet, exercise routine, or other lifestyle habits. They might prescribe one or more medications. They will also ask you to schedule regular checkups and blood tests.
If you notice changes in your symptoms or blood sugar levels, let your doctor know. Type 2 diabetes can change overtime. Your doctor may adjust your treatment plan to meet your evolving needs.