How is diabetes managed?
While there is no cure for diabetes, many treatments are available to help control blood glucose levels. For type 2 diabetes, a healthy lifestyle also plays a big role in managing blood glucose levels and lowering the risk of complications.1 In this article, we take a top-line look at how type 2 diabetes is managed.
The aim of managing diabetes
The aim of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to your ‘target’ range as possible. Your healthcare professional will discuss with you your personalised target blood glucose range – this may differ from the target range of other people you know with diabetes.2, 3
Maintaining blood glucose levels within the target range generally requires using a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.
Lifestyle changes for diabetes
Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular exercise and stopping smoking, are important for every person with diabetes.1 For some people with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes may be all they need to manage their blood glucose levels, at least for a while.2
So how do lifestyle changes help with diabetes?
- Healthy eating helps manage blood glucose levels and body weight.2 Learn more about eating right for diabetes.
- Exercising helps insulin work more effectively, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.2 Learn more about exercise in diabetes and get started with an exercise plan today!
- Stopping smoking can greatly improve the health of anyone who smokes. But did you know that smoking can increase blood glucose levels and make it harder to manage diabetes?4 Smoking also increases the already higher risk of heart attack and stroke in people with diabetes.4 If you smoke, learn more about the harmful effects of smoking for people with diabetes, and tips on helping you quit.
Medication for diabetes
For most people with diabetes, healthy eating and exercise alone are not enough to keep the blood glucose levels down, especially as the condition progresses with time.2 If lifestyle changes are not enough, your healthcare professional will prescribe medication to manage your blood glucose levels and help prevent complications.2
Many different types of medications are available to help manage diabetes. Your healthcare professional will prescribe the most appropriate medication (or combination of medications) for you. The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) offers a useful factsheet with information about all the different kinds of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, and tips for taking your medications.
Lifestyle and medication work together
Taking medication for diabetes does not mean we no longer need to create a healthy lifestyle. In fact, healthy lifestyle habits should be used alongside any medication to help achieve the best results in managing blood glucose and lowering the risk of complications.
Diabetes management plans
A diabetes management plan is a personalised plan of care for your diabetes, involving all members of your healthcare team. Every person with diabetes should develop a diabetes management plan with their healthcare professional.
A diabetes management plan includes information about your target blood glucose range, along with information about your medication and lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise). Your management plan should be reviewed and updated regularly.
How do I know if my diabetes management is working?
Your healthcare professional will monitor your blood glucose levels at regular check-ups to make sure your diabetes management plan is working for you. If a treatment isn’t working for you, or you are experiencing side effects, your healthcare professional can advise on alternative options and update your management plan.
Outside of the clinic check-ups, you can also check your own blood glucose levels regularly at home using a small, handheld device. Checking your own glucose levels (self-monitoring) can be really helpful in managing your diabetes, as it will help you see the effect of various foods, exercise and medications on your blood glucose levels.3
Your healthcare team can advise you on how to get a glucose monitor and how to use it to help you manage your blood glucose. The NDSS also offers some great information on how, when and why to monitor your blood glucose levels.
Your diabetes healthcare team
Diabetes is best managed with the support of your healthcare team.5 Many people can be part of your team to help you live well with diabetes, including health professionals, family and friends.
The following are the kinds of people you may include. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
• Family doctor/GP – Your GP will play a central role in assessing your diabetes and helping you manage it. They can also refer you to any specialists that you may need.
• Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) – Your CDE will help you understand and manage diabetes as well as its associated complications. Your GP can refer you to a CDE near you.
• Dietitian – A dietitian will work with you to develop a personalised healthy eating plan to suit your lifestyle, your type of diabetes and individual health needs.
• Endocrinologist – An endocrinologist can help treat diabetes-related conditions that are complex and involve many systems within the body. Your GP can refer you.
• Family and friends – Those closest to you can provide day-to-day support in managing your emotional health, physical health and motivation for diabetes self-management.
What to expect during your diabetes check up
Diabetes changes over time and what works for you now, may not work for you in a year.
The Annual Cycle of Care is a checklist designed to help you and your healthcare team keep your diabetes on track.6
The Annual Cycle of Care include checks of your:7
- blood pressure
- weight, waist and body mass index
- diabetes management
- lifestyle – diet and physical activity
- emotional health
Regular health checks help prevent diabetes-related complications, which may involve your kidneys, eyes, feet, nerves and heart.
Cycle of Care Checklist6
|How often||Checks to carry out|
|Daily self-checks||Foot check—look for signs of infection, swelling, redness or skin breaks.|
|3–6 months||Foot assessment (high-risk feet)—with podiatrist, doctor or diabetes educator|
|6–12 months||Blood pressure—with doctor or practice nurse|
|12 months||Foot assessment (low-risk feet)—with podiatrist, doctor or diabetes educator|
Kidney health—with doctor or endocrinologist
Blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides)—with doctor
Medication review—with doctor
Dental check—with dentist
|2 years||Eye examination—with doctor, optometrist or ophthalmologist|
|When indicated||Driver’s licence assessment—with doctor|
Think a diabetes diagnosis will set you back? Think again.
These Hollywood stars prove that diabetes doesn’t have to get in the way of a blockbuster life.
Known for his roles in Forrest Gump, Castaway and Big, America’s favourite actor announced he had type 2 diabetes in an interview with David Letterman back in 2013.
From teen heartthrob to seasoned actor, Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after experiencing weight loss and excessive thirst in his early 20s.
More than just a Bond Girl, Halle Berry won an Oscar for Best Actress for her dramatic performance in Monster's Ball. Her secret to staying healthy and in control of her diabetes? A carefully curated, nutritious diet (and no doubt a personal chef!).
Why not do a quick Google search to see which other celebrities have diabetes – trust us, there are more than you’d think…
- Better Health Channel. Diabetes. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes.
- Diabetes Australia. Managing type 2 diabetes. Available at: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/managing-type-2.
- National Diabetes Services Scheme. Blood glucose monitoring. Available at: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/73993018-8019-43fc-9ec3-2b4d6380af47.pdf.
- Diabetes Australia. Smoking, pre-diabetes and diabetes. Available at: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/575c27fe-ca55-43c4-afea-88c8150a613e.pdf.
- Diabetes Australia. Health Care Team. Available at: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/just-been-diagnosed/health-care-team/
- National Diabetes Services Scheme. Diabetes health checks. Available at: https://www.ndss.com.au/living-with-diabetes/health-management/diabetes-health-checks/
- National Diabetes Services Scheme. Your diabetes annual cycle of care fact sheet. Available at: https://www.ndss.com.au/about-diabetes/resources/find-a-resource/your-diabetes-annual-cycle-of-care-fact-sheet/