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Treating type 2 diabetes

There is no cure for diabetes, so treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible and to control your symptoms to prevent health problems developing later in life.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your GP will be able to explain your condition to you in detail and help you to understand your treatment. They will closely monitor your condition to identify any health problems that may occur.

If there are any problems, you may be referred to a hospital based diabetes care team.

Care standards for diabetes

In treating diabetes, the aim is to help people with the condition control their blood glucose levels and minimise the risk of developing future complications.

The Department of Health has set out national standards for NHS organisations and professionals covering diabetes care and prevention. The diabetes national service framework was developed by diabetes clinical experts and patients with diabetes. Good diabetes care includes:

- awareness of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes

- advice and support to help people at risk of type 2 diabetes reduce that risk

- access to information and appropriate support for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, including access to a structured education programme, such as DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed).

- an agreed care plan, helping all people with diabetes to manage their care and lead a healthy lifestyle, including a named contact for their care

- information, care and support to enable all people with diabetes to optimise their blood glucose level, maintain an acceptable blood pressure and minimise other risk factors for developing complications

- access to services to identify and treat possible complications, such as screening for diabetic retinopathy and specialised foot care

- effective care for all people with diabetes admitted to hospital, for whatever reason

Treating type 2 diabetes

Treatment for diabetes aims to help people with the condition to control their blood glucose levels and minimise the risk of developing complications over time.

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will need to look after your health carefully for the rest of your life. This may seem daunting, but your diabetes care team will be able to give you support and advice about all aspects of your treatment.

Lifestyle changes

For many people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the first approach to treatment is to make lifestyle changes. These include taking regular exercise, eating healthily and losing weight if you are overweight or obese (a body mass index of 30 or over).

This may be enough to keep your blood glucose at a safe and healthy level without the need for other treatment.

Taking medicines

Type 2 diabetes usually gets worse over time. Even if they work at first, diet and exercise may not be enough to control your blood glucose levels.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may need, or eventually need, medicines that reduce high levels of blood glucose. Initially, this will usually be in the form of tablets, and may sometimes be a combination of more than one type of tablet. It may also include insulin or other medication that you inject.

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