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Diabetes Management: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2023

What is the treatment?

Diabetes is a disease when a person blood sugar levels or blood glucose levels are much higher than normal. This is a condition when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use the insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that allows for the proper metabolism of glucose and ensures that it reaches the cells. A person may suffer from a number of health problems if there is too much glucose in his/her body. There is, however, no permanent treatment for diabetes. It can only be managed.

There are different types of diabetes. A person suffering from Type 1 diabetes has to take insulin everyday as his/her body stops synthesizing the hormone. This is because the nervous system attacks the pancreas and destroys the cells that manufacture insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce the required amount of insulin or it does not use it well. This results in excess blood glucose in the blood.

Managing diabetes involves primarily managing the ABCs of diabetes: A for A1C test, B for blood pressure, C for cholesterol and s for smoking. Insulin, which is essential for treating both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be taken in the form of shots, jet injector, pump, inhaler and pen. People suffering from Type 2 diabetes are generally recommended metformin pills. When medications and other treatments fail, bariatric surgery may be recommended for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes while an artificial pancreas and pancreatic islet transplantation may be recommended for Type 1 diabetics.

How is the treatment done?

Managing diabetes means managing the blood glucose levels. It also means managing blood pressure and cholesterol to keep various health problems at bay. The different methods that can be used to manage diabetes are managing the diabetes ABCs, regularly monitoring the blood glucose levels, following the diabetes meal plan, exercising regularly, taking regular medications and adopting other healthy means. The A1C test shows a person blood glucose levels over the last 3 months. For many people, the A1C goal is below 7 percent. The blood goal is generally 140/90 mm Hg.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when a person’s pancreas does not produce insulin. So, people with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin regularly to reduce the level of glucose in blood. Thus Type 1 diabetes can be managed by taking insulin in the form of injections or pumps regularly, monitoring the blood glucose levels regularly, exercising and eating healthy. Management of diabetes involve keeping the blood glucose levels as close as possible to the target range of between 4-6 mmol/L.

For people with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is working but not producing the desired results. Initially Type 2 diabetes can be managed by through lifestyle modifications like eating healthy, exercising and regularly checking blood sugar levels. However, this condition is often a progressive one and may require medications when the pancreas becomes less effective in converting glucose to energy. A person may also need to start taking insulin. Sometimes,a person suffering from diabetes may need to consult with a range of different doctors to manage his/her condition.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

The symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, blurred vision, fatigue, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, unexplained weight loss and sores that do not heal. The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes develop quickly while Type 2 diabetes may develop slowly over the years without manifesting any apparent symptoms. A medical practitioner may take the help of tests like A1C, fasting plasma glucose test and random plasma glucose test to understand whether a person is suffering from diabetes or not. A person who has shown some symptoms and has been diagnosed by a doctor is eligible for treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

A person who does not exhibit any symptoms and whose blood glucose levels are normal are not eligible for treatment. A person is not eligible if a doctor does not diagnose him as suffering from diabetes after he/she has undergone relevant tests.

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Are there any side effects?

People suffering from Type 2 diabetes are generally given metformin tablets. However, the serious side-effects of this medication include low blood pressure and lactic acidosis. The manifestations of lactic acidosis include tiredness, weakness, trouble in breathing, muscle pain, nausea and stomach pain. Low bllod pressure can cause headache, confusion, weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, irritability and a shaking or jittery feeling. Injection of insulin may result in hunger, weakness, headache, sweating tremors, irritability, fainting, fast breathing, rapid breathing and seizures.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Diabetes is a condition which has no permanent cure. What a person can do at the most is manage the symptoms. A person suffering from Type 1 diabetes has to take insulin throughout his/her life. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and a person will have to undergo the treatment to keep blood sugar levels in check. So, a person has to lead a healthy lifestyle and undertake regular check-ups throughout his/her life to manage diabetes.

How long does it take to recover?

Diabetes cannot be completely treated but it can be managed. However, people can manage their blood sugar levels within a few days by reverting to a healthy lifestyle and also by taking insulin. Rapid acting injectable insulin takes effect within a few minutes and helps to bring down the blood glucose levels. However, this is not a permanent solution. So there is no such recovery time for a person suffering from diabetes. A person needs to create a self-care plan and take care of himself/herself everyday to deal with diabetes and lead a good life.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

A person suffering from Type 1 diabetes will have to spend something around Rs 8000 – Rs 10000 per month. 1 box of Minimed Silhouette costs around Rs 3800. These are used by people who are lean or lead an active life. 1 box of Minimed Reservoir costs about Rs 1500. A person will have to pay Rs 1600 for 2 boxes of Accu-check Perfoma test strips which contain 200 strips. 2 10ml vials of Sanofi Apidra Insulin cost around Rs 2000. A patient suffering from diabetes will have to go for regular check-ups. The cost of seeing the doctor varies from one institution to another and also depends on the doctor himself/herself. The cheapest insulin injections are available within a price range of Rs 140 -210 in India.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

A healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet, regular exercise and medications help to keep the blood sugar levels in check. However, the results are not permanent. A person suffering from diabetes will have to take medications (including insulin) throughout his/her life. That person will have to lead a healthy and active lifestyle throughout. As otherwise, the blood sugar levels will shoot up and cause a lot of health problems.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Soaking 10-15 tender mango leaves in a glass of water for a night and consuming the water in the morning helps to regulate blood glucose levels. Bitter gourd or bitter melon helps to manage diabetes by influencing glucose metabolism all over the body. Powdered cinnamon also helps to deal with diabetes as it contains bioactive components. Other foods that help to deal with diabetes are fenugreek, Indian gooseberry, black plum, curry leaves and aloe vera.

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Written ByDr. S.Sagin Raj Diploma in Diabetology,CCRH (certificate in reproductive health),MBBS,F.F.M(family medicine)General Physician
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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