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Diabetes treatments

There are many diabetes treatments available to help you manage your condition. Everyone is different, so treatment will vary depending on your own individual needs. 

Not all diabetes treatments are suitable for everyone, so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself needing to change or stop certain medications. Your GP or healthcare team can help you find a medication that’s best for you.   

Your diabetes treatment may be different depending on what type of diabetes you have. Read more about:  

You can find out more information on the different diabetes treatments below:

Insulin

Everyone with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin as a medication. And so do some people with type 2 diabetes, some people with gestational diabetes and some people with other types of diabetes.  

Insulin helps you manage your blood sugar levels and helps prevents short-term or long-term serious health problems known as diabetes complications.    

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

Metformin  

Metformin is the most common treatment for type 2 diabetes. You might also take it if you have gestational diabetes.  

Metformin is part of a drug class called biguanides. It can be used on its own to lower blood sugar levels, or it can be taken with other diabetes medications including insulin.    

Metformin works by reducing the amount of glucose - a type of sugar – that the liver releases into your body, and it helps the insulin your body makes work better.  

Diabetes tablets and medication 

There are several types of diabetes medications available, such as weight loss medications and SGLT2 inhibitors, which all work in different ways.   

Healthy eating 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of managing diabetes. Following a balanced diet will allow you to manage your blood sugar levels and help you keep to a healthy weight.   

Exercise 

Being physically active is good for diabetes. Whether you feel able to go for a run or a swim, or can manage some arm stretches or on-the-spot walking while the kettle boils, it all makes a difference.  

Technology 

There are lots of different types of diabetes tech, like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, which can be an important part of how some people manage their diabetes.  

Weight loss surgery 

Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is seen as a treatment for type 2 diabetes and there is strong evidence it is an effective way to put your type 2 diabetes into remission long term.   

Type 2 diabetes remission 

There are many ways of entering type 2 diabetes remission, which is when your long-term blood sugars fall below the diabetes level and stay there for at least three months, without the need for glucose-lowering medication.  

Immunotherapy 

Immunotherapies are new treatments that reprogramme the immune system so that it no longer attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. They're being tested in clinical trials and could give us a way to stop type 1 diabetes in its tracks or prevent the condition entirely.   

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. 

Is diabetes medication free on the NHS?  

If you treat your diabetes with medication, you won’t need to pay for medications. In England, you'll need a prescription exemption certificate to claim your free prescription unless you're 60 or over.  

More information and support

Still have more questions? Or is there anything you're not sure about diabetes treatments after reading this page? Contact our helpline on 0345 123 2399. 

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