What are Diabetes Treatment Guidelines?
Diabetes treatment guidelines are recommendations made to help those with any type of diabetes be healthy and live a quality life. The American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes is a lengthy guide for medical professionals to follow when treating patients with diabetes. This formal diabetes treatment guideline addresses every aspect of diabetes as well as its health risk to all systems of the body. With these standards of care, your chances of successful diabetes treatment are high when you take an active role in your diabetes treatment and management. Read on to learn what to expect in diabetes treatment.
Diabetes Treatment: Who is Responsible for Treatment and Management?
When you or a loved one is first diagnosed, diabetes treatment plans will be created. In most cases, you will have a treatment team of professionals looking after all aspects of your care. Because diabetes carries risks like kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, loss of lower limbs, and cardiovascular disease, diabetes treatment must address your whole self. Your treatment team may include such professionals as:
- Your primary care physician
- Diabetes educator
- Endocrinologist (a specialist in hormones, including insulin)
- Ophthalmologist or optometrist (eye doctor)
- Podiatrist (foot doctor; foot problems are common in diabetes)
- Dentist (mouth problems are also common in diabetes)
- Exercise physiologist (to help with an active lifestyle)
- Nutritionist (to help with a diabetes-friendly diet)
- Mental health therapist (to help you overcome depression, anxiety, stress, and other challenges that can accompany life with diabetes)
While every member of the team is equally important, the key member is you. The professionals on your team will help you define your diabetes treatment goals and work with you in creating your action steps, but you won’t see these people every day. You have the power to be healthy despite this disease by following the personal diabetes treatment guidelines outlined in your plan ("Are There Natural Diabetes Treatments?").
The Many Components of Diabetes Treatment
Managing diabetes and staying healthy involves a variety of diabetes treatment options ("How Do You Treat Diabetes? Medications, Diet, Stem Cells"). Expect to have most, if not all, of these in your individualized treatment plan developed by your care team:
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Medication, including insulin
- Healthy diet
- Foot monitoring (foot problems develop often, so daily inspections help you catch issues early)
- Check-ups as scheduled with your primary care doctor and other professionals on your team
Blood glucose monitoring forms the foundation of your daily care. Diabetes is a disease in which, because of a problem with the hormone insulin, glucose (sugar) stays in the bloodstream instead of moving into the cells of the body. The result is hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia causes damage throughout the body; thus, it must be managed. Monitoring your blood sugar with a small device that takes a bit of blood and measures the glucose level at certain times throughout the day helps you know if you need to eat better, use insulin, exercise, or any combination of these.
It’s essential that you take any diabetes medication prescribed by your doctor and take it as directed. If you have type 1 diabetes, you will take insulin because your body doesn’t make it on its own. If you have type 2, there’s a chance you will take insulin, but insulin isn’t automatically part of type 2 diabetes treatment.
Medications other than insulin are sometimes used to treat type 2 diabetes. If you have been prescribed medication as part of your treatment plan, make sure to take it.
A healthy diet and an active lifestyle with regular exercise are vital for health and wellbeing with diabetes. Eliminating fried, fatty, processed, and sugary foods is of the utmost importance. Eating plenty of protein, fiber, and foods with a low-mid rating on the glycemic index will help lower blood sugar.
The glycemic index is a scale ranging from one to 100 that rates how a specific food affects blood sugar. High numbers raise blood sugar, so aim for foods rated 55 and lower, such as:
- Most fruits
- Minimally refined pasta and grains
- Low-fat dairy products
In addition to diet, exercise helps your body operate better, including regulating its blood glucose levels. Exercise also promotes weight loss. Being overweight or obese is a contributing factor in type 2 diabetes, so eating well and losing weight promote lower blood glucose levels. Further, both diet and exercise give you more energy, a welcome improvement over the deep fatigue associated with diabetes. In diabetes, glucose can’t enter the cells of the body and thus can’t be used for energy. The result is exhaustion. Following a proper diet and exercise program will improve your overall health.
Diabetes treatment isn’t difficult, but it does require persistence. Your treatment plan is designed to let you live well with diabetes. Be active in your diabetes treatment and management, and you’ll benefit by feeling better and enjoying life.
Peterson, T. (2019, January 8). What are Diabetes Treatment Guidelines?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/diabetes/treatments/what-are-diabetes-treatment-guidelines