Inside diabetes treatments
Why are there so many different treatments for diabetes? Learn more about the main treatments and how they work
If you’ve been prescribed medication to treat your Type 2 diabetes but don’t like taking it, this is the article for you. A study completed in 2017 by the Leicester Diabetes Centre found that more than one in three people with Type 2 diabetes don’t take their medication as prescribed. If you’re one of them, read on.
|Find out more about the most common treatments for Type 2 diabetes in our in-depth guide|
It’s impossible to say whether one particular person is going to do well on a specific medication to the point where they no longer need it. Some medicines are meant to be short-term things: a course of antibiotics is often for less than a week, for example, and headache tablets are usually taken as-and-when. But some medicines are long-term – they support your health over extended periods of time. Many medicines for Type 2 diabetes fall into this category and could need to be taken for life to keep your diabetes under control.
Medical treatments for Type 2 diabetes are prescribed for a reason: to help your body control your blood glucose levels so that you have the best chance of staying healthy and well. If your doctor has prescribed something for you, it will be based on your medical needs. When you have Type 2 diabetes, high blood glucose over a long period of time can lead to complications throughout your body:
Not taking your medication as prescribed increases your chances getting of these complications. The Leicester Diabetes Centre study found that the people who DID stick to their prescribed treatments had a 10% lower risk of hospital visits.
The symptoms of high blood glucose aren’t always obvious. You may only get mild symptoms, or they can creep up on your gradually over time. Then it gets to a point where you either feel so unwell you go to the doctor, or a routine check picks up that your blood glucose is high, and that’s when you might start being prescribed medication. If you start taking the tablets, but don’t feel any different – maybe you’ll wonder if they’re working or not?
It’s important to remember that just because you can’t always SEE or FEEL the damage that Type 2 diabetes can cause, it doesn’t mean that nothing’s happening. Lifestyle changes like improving your diet and taking more exercise may help to control your blood glucose levels at first, but may not be enough in the long term. This is where medications come in. Treatment for diabetes aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible and control your symptoms to prevent health problems developing. Type 2 diabetes medications work “behind the scenes”, tackling the causes of the illness, so they need to be continued even if you feel fine.
Yes. It’s there to work FOR you, and it can’t do that if it’s still in the box, tucked away in the medicine cabinet. Type 2 diabetes isn’t like short-lived ailments such as flu, or recovering from an operation: it is often a life-long condition that needs life-long care. Give yourself the best chance of feeling good for as long as possible with the three key aspects of any Type 2 diabetes care regimen:
Your body isn’t something separate to you, that needs to be either punished or ignored. It IS you, it’s the only body you’ve got, so do something great for yourself and treat it well. After all, you’re the one who’s going to benefit!
Learn as much as you can about your medication and about Type 2 diabetes. In general, people who understand what their medication is doing for them tend to stick to it
If you have any questions at all about how to take your prescribed medications, ask, your doctor, diabetes nurse or pharmacist. Better to be sure you’re doing it right, than find out later you should have been doing things differently!
Make notes on advice you’re given about your medication. You may forget something if you’re given too much information at once
Keep communication open between yourself and your healthcare team (doctor, nurse and pharmacist for example). Studies have shown that people who are on good terms with their healthcare team and feel they are able to talk to them are more likely to be happy with their care and stick to their treatments
Set reminders on your phone, or keep your medications where you’ll see them at specific times of day (e.g. by your toothbrush, or by the kettle) to make it easier to remember to take them
Be on the look-out for any side effects from your medications, and let your healthcare team know as soon as you notice anything. This saves you struggling on with side effects that are getting out of hand, or even giving up on the medication because it makes you feel worse. Your healthcare team may be able give you advice and recommendations for different treatments that cause you fewer or less troublesome side effects