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Diabetes treatments

There are a number of treatments available to help you manage and treat your diabetes. Everyone is different, so treatment will vary depending on your own individual needs.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to use insulin to treat your diabetes. You take the insulin by injection or by using a pump

If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may have to use insulin or tablets, though you might initially be able to treat your diabetes by eating well and moving more

If you have another type of diabetes, your treatment options may be different. Speak to your healthcare professional, or call our helpline if you’re not sure.

Your GP or a healthcare professional can help you find the right diabetes treatment plan to suit you and your lifestyle.

People with diabetes are entitled to free prescriptions.


Everyone with type 1 diabetes, and some people with type 2 diabetes, need to take insulin to manage their blood glucose (sugar) levels.

If you have type 2 diabetes and your healthcare team recommends that you need to start insulin, it doesn’t mean that you now have type 1 diabetes. You still have type 2, but your treatment has changed.

Many people with type 2 need insulin treatment at some point and it doesn’t mean you haven’t managed your diabetes well. Insulin is simply another medication that can help to keep you as healthy as possible. 

Managing blood sugars effectively is really important in reducing your risk of future diabetes complications and insulin may be the most appropriate treatment choice for you. 

If you need help injecting yourself, Emma can show you how in our video below.

Treatments for people with Type 1 diabetes

Insulin pumps

Using an insulin pump can be a good alternative to injecting with an insulin pen. It can give you more flexibility when managing your diabetes. Get more information on insulin pumps including the NICE guidelines you need to meet to get one for free.

Islet cell transplant

If you have Type 1 diabetes, you may be able to get an islet cell transplant. This could stop you experiencing severe hypos. Get more information about islet cell transplants – what they are and how to access them.

Treatments for people with Type 2 diabetes

Tablets and medication

If you have type 2 diabetes you may need medication to help manage your blood sugar levels. The most common tablet is metformin, but there are lots of different types.

Some medication stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, such as sulphonylureas. Others may be prescribed to help you lose weight, if you need to.

If you need to take tablets to manage your diabetes, you and your doctor will decide which is best for you.

Weight loss surgery

There are lots of obesity surgery procedures to the stomach or intestine that you can get to help you lose weight. There have been lots of studies that have found that this can help to put Type 2 diabetes into remission.

Diet and exercise

Lots of people with Type 2 diabetes don’t take any medication, and they instead treat their diabetes by eating well and moving more, our latest research DiRECT has even shown that weight loss can put Type 2 diabetes into remission. We have loads of information and advice that will help you live a healthy life.


If you have type 2 diabetes, you may not need to use insulin straight away. But some people have very high blood sugar levels when they are first diagnosed. Insulin can be used as a short-term treatment to help quickly bring down your blood sugar levels. 

Some people may need to take insulin for a particular reason, like during pregnancy, a severe illness, or after surgery. But you may also need to start insulin as a treatment if other medications haven’t helped managed your blood sugar levels or aren’t appropriate for you. 

Many people with type 2 diabetes need to use insulin as treatment at some point. If you need to start insulin treatment, remember that this isn’t your fault.

It’s still important to keep going to your appointments and manage your condition with healthy lifestyle choices. Staying active and eating a healthy diet will reduce the risk of complications from your diabetes. When you start taking insulin, you may notice that you start to put on weight. There are lots of reasons for this, like how much insulin you take, your diet and the type of insulin you’re taking. If you’re worried about putting on weight, or you’d like some help losing weight, then we’re here to help

Emotional support

Diabetes doesn't just affect you physically, it can affect you emotionally too.

Whether you've just been diagnosed or you've lived with diabetes for a long time, you may need support for all the emotions you're feeling. This could be stress, feeling low and depressed, or burnt out

The people around you can feel all of this too. Whatever you're feeling, you are not alone. We’ve put together some emotional support information you might find helpful and that you might like to share it with your family and friends too.

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