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It has been reported that more than 2.9-million people in the US alone have Type 2 diabetes. The illness occurs when the body has a problem with glucose levels within the blood. If sugar levels are elevated higher than normal, the body doesn’t produce insulin. Over time, this patterns turns into insulin resistance. The problem is that once glucose and insulin levels are thrown off, the body has to compensate. First it is the pancreas that tries to make up for the imbalance. It isn’t meant to do this full-time though so eventually it can’t continue the strain. This is when the blood glucose level rises and other steps are needed to moderate them for overall better health. The good news is that there are ways to manage Type 2 diabetes. The top three treatments include diet and exercise, pills and injectables, and weight loss surgery. Here are some details about the treatment options and success stories behind them.

Diet and Exercise

Though you may have heard of insulin injections or pills for managing Type 2 diabetes, this isn’t always needed. Sometimes the blood glucose level can be efficiently managed through a change in dietary and exercise lifestyle. Oftentimes people who are diagnosed with this condition are relatively sedentary and aren’t eating properly. Combined these two things can send the blood sugar level into a tailspin.

If caught early enough, diet and exercise can sometimes be the solution. Most people who are diagnosed with the condition will meet with a dietician. That specialist will guide them through the proper diet choices for their life. They will help them make choices that are not only healthy, but work with their schedule—both home and work. They also will incorporate movement. Whether it is a formal gym membership or a nightly walk around the neighborhood, they will use diet and exercise to help the body regulate sugars on its own. This form of management can be highly effective for the right patients.

“Thankfully my Type 2 diabetes was caught early enough that I was able to use diet and exercise as a solution. I changed my lifestyle and incorporated healthy and convenient options in my day. It worked and hopefully will continue with careful management.” Jennifer Cervantes

“I thought that pills and insulin were the norm but my doctor taught me how to eat right and exercise. Yes- I might have to escalate my sugar moderation in the future, but most likely if I’m vigilant I can manage it naturally.” Charlie Franklin

“I wish I had the tools earlier but I’m glad I found them now. I plan my meals and my exercise on Sundays. That way I am ready for a healthy week!” Jim Garner

Pills and Injectables

Though diet and exercise can be highly effective, sometimes they aren’t enough to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. These patients are the ones who have to escalate their management plans to include medicines that regulate sugar. Usually a doctor will use some form of metformin, the generic name for a medication that tells the liver to hold some of its glucose. Other medications can tell your pancreas to create a higher level of insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. These are called DPP-4 inhibitors. Your doctor will have a range of pills and injectables to try and they normally will closely monitor your blood to see which ones are the most beneficial for your body. 

“I didn’t even know I had diabetes. When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I needed serious help with monitoring my sugar level. A strict diet and exercise helped, but never got my levels regulated. I needed to use insulin. Once I did though, my sugar levels regulated and I felt a lot more energetic.” Casey Gunnerson

“Sugar level had always been an issue for me. When I was younger, I was able to watch what I ate to maintain a moderate level. As I got older, though, that wasn’t possible. I ended up being prescribed pills to help my body manage.” Martha Linstrom

“I was easily able to incorporate insulin injections into my day. The fact was I needed it and thought it would be a hassle. Once I got the schedule down though, it has been easier than I thought.” Tom Hamlin

Weight Loss Surgery

When a patient diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is overweight, a doctor may opt for weight loss surgery as a management tool. Usually this is reserved for people who are 80-pounds or more overweight. By getting rid of the extra pounds, the body is better able to regulate its own blood sugar and insulin levels. It also increases incretins, hormones in the gut that direct the pancreas to create insulin. As the body regulates to the weight loss, medications may be drastically diminished. This options takes careful monitoring but it can prove to be a life-saving option for hundreds of thousands of people struggling with both Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

“I was considered obese when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I had no clue where to start but the doctor created a weight loss surgery plan to start with. It was difficult, but now I feel much better and look forward to a long life.” Millie Campbell

“Obesity runs in my family and so does Type 2 diabetes. When I heard I had it, I was happy that the doctor set me up for weight loss surgery. It was the first step to getting me back on track!”  Tony St. James

“Though I knew I was obese, I thought that diet and exercise would be the answer. The doctor told me we had to start with more drastic action. I’m so glad I went through with my weight loss surgery. I feel better and know that I’m healthier than I have been since I was a kid.”  Matt Waineman