Diabetes treatment is determined by the type of diabetes mellitus (type 1 or type 2), as well as factors such as the patient's age, the stage or severity of the disease and other medical conditions affecting the patient.
Treatment of diabetes is most effective when the disease is detected early.
Early detection provides the best opportunity for effective treatment, which can significantly reduce the risk of long-term complications.
Additionally, other contributing risk factors such as obesity and high cholesterol levels can be also addressed, thereby, minimizing the patient's risk of developing serious associated complications, such as heart disease.
Uncontrolled diabetes usually results in numerous long-term complications. These complications arise, primarily, as a result of damage to small blood vessels (microvascular disease) as well as damage to large blood vessels (macrovascular disease).
Microvascular disease can result in kidney failure and neuropathy (nervous system damage). Neuropathy can cause loss of feeling and numbness in different parts of the body, as well as sexual dysfunction. In severe cases, the eyes may also be affected (retinopathy), leading to visual impairment and blindness.
Cardiovascular disease is the most common manifestation of large blood vessel damage, which can lead to strokes, heart attacks and aneurysms. The best defenses against these long-term complications are early detection and effective control and treatment of diabetes.
The treatment of diabetes depends on the stage (severity) of the disease, the type of diabetes and whether there are any associated disorders. The personal medical circumstances of each individual are likely to be different, hence the need to tailor diabetes treatment to suit individual requirements. Generally, though, treatment of diabetes would tend to include some or all of the following:
Diet - Special attention must be given to the types and quantities of foods consumed by a diabetic.
Diet plays a pivotal role in effective diabetes treatment, since the foods we consume have a direct impact on blood glucose levels.
When healthy eating is combined with other healthy life-style practices (such as regular exercise), it provides enormous health benefits.
Each diabetic should have their diets specially tailored, by a registered dietitian, to ensure that they are eating the foods that are most beneficial to them, given the stage and type of their diabetes and any other health conditions. A dietitian will normally conduct a complete analysis of the patient's medical history and profile, and recommend an appropriate diabetes diet suitable for each patient's unique circumstances.
Exercise - Exercise is an essential element of diabetes treatment and control.
Apart from helping to control blood glucose levels, there are many other health benefits of regular physical activities.
For type 2 diabetics, exercise is directly beneficial to insulin cell receptors, which helps to reduce insulin resistance. Additionally, exercise aids in weight loss, helps to lower high blood pressure and increases the efficiency of the cardio vascular system.
The benefits of regular exercise are enormous. Every diabetic should talk to his or her doctor about implementing an appropriate exercise program.
Insulin treatment - Individuals with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily, since their body is unable to make its own.
This, however, is not the case with individuals who have type 2 diabetes.
Their bodies can produce insulin but cannot effectively use it. Sometimes, though, they may require an insulin boost to help keep their blood glucose level within the normal range.
Insulin must be administered by injection... It cannot be taken orally. The appropriate dosage and frequency with which insulin should be administered is determined by the diabetic patient's doctor.
Oral medication - In some cases, lifestyle adjustments (i.e. exercise, weight loss and diet modification) do not adequately lower the blood glucose level of individuals with diabetes.
When this happens, individuals with type 1 diabetes usually require insulin treatment and those with type 2 diabetes may require oral medication (medication taken by mouth) and, in some cases, insulin medication.
Oral medication is a primary diabetes treatment for persons with type 2 diabetes. This helps their bodies to utilize insulin more efficiently.
There are many different types of oral medication for diabetic patients. The doctor treating the diabetic patient will usually prescribe the one he or she feels will be the most effective for the patient.
Alternative treatment for diabetes - Within recent years (the last decade or two), the interest in non-conventional medicines (otherwise known as alternative medicines) has increased significantly.
More and more patients have embraced alternative treatment options for treatment of diabetes and other medical conditions. The increased popularity of alternative diabetes treatment has been attributed mainly to patients' desire to use a more holistic and natural treatment option, which allows them to directly participate in their own care.
Herbal treatment is the predominant alternative treatment for diabetes and other health conditions.
Alternative treatments also tend to include dietary and lifestyle adjustments and food supplements.
Supplements may include omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and Zinc, among others. Some patients have reported very satisfactory results with alternative diabetes treatment options, with little to no side-effects.
A word of caution, though... Diabetic patients who take oral medication and/ or insulin should not replace their prescribed medication with alternative medicines, without first consulting their physician. Although herbal remedies tend to interact well with prescription and over-the-counter medicines, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before incorporating alternative medicines to supplement conventional diabetes treatment. This allows the doctor to assess the relative safety of the alternative treatment and to also monitor its effectiveness, over time.
In fact, if the alternative medicine proves to be really effective, the doctor may reduce (or discontinue) the dosage of the conventional medicine.
Whether a patient decides to use conventional and/ or alternative diabetes treatment, it is important to remember that effective results can only be achieved through discipline and consistency. The long-term effects of diabetes can be significantly reduced with regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular blood glucose monitoring and regular consultations with your doctor.