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Diabetes Alert Day: Treatment and Prevention

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What is Diabetes Alert Day? Woman measuring her blood sugar. Diabetes Alert Day

Since 1987, the American Diabetes Association has named the 4th Tuesday in March as Diabetes Alert Day. This year it falls on March 28th. Diabetes Alert Day was created as a public “wake-up call” to the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding the associated risks of living with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, this national day aims to shed light on the need for finding appropriate care and treatments for type 2 diabetes and, wherever possible, to prevent type 2 diabetes. 

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar. For people with people with type 2 diabetes, it is a serious health concern and is characterized by high glucose levels due to insulin resistance or insulin insufficiency. According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and millions of people develop type 2 diabetes each year. 

What happens when Type 2 diabetes goes untreated? 

The importance of publicity like Diabetes Alert Day is that if left untreated or poorly managed, Type 2 diabetes can elevate the risk factors that lead to serious complications that can affect almost every part of the body, including the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. These complications can include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, blindness, and amputations, according to the Center for Disease Control in Washington.

What are the risks of Type 2 diabetes?

The risks of Type 2 diabetes are compounded by the fact that it often goes undiagnosed for long periods. It can have a very wide range of direct or indirect causes, including genetics, diet and lifestyle. More than 80 percent of adults living with prediabetes don’t know they have it. The disease can develop slowly over time and may not present any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. Common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, fatigue, and slow-healing wounds. 

How is diabetes managed? 

The good news is that as long as Type 2 diabetes is detected early, it can be managed with proper treatment. There are many special diabetes medications available that help to control the level of glucose in the blood. Most of these are prescribed along with lifestyle modifications such as healthy eating, regular physical activity, and weight management.  

exercise is critical to maintaining good health

What are the treatments for Type 2 diabetes? 

For many years, there has been great success in controlling and treating Type 2 diabetes with Metformin. Metformin has been regularly prescribed as a first-line oral diabetes care medication for Type 2 diabetes, primarily for people who are overweight. Usually, a doctor will prescribe it when diet and exercise have failed to control a patient’s blood sugar, but the sugar levels don’t yet require more active intervention like direct injections of insulin. Now, the FDA has approved a new sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes in adults in combination with Metformin. It also resulted in people losing weight and lowering systolic blood pressure.

What does GLP-1 have to do with diabetes?

One important recent improvement in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes was the development of semaglutide, another medication that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Semaglutide comes in two forms. It is marketed as Ozempic, which can be taken as a once-a-week self-administered injection, or as Rybelsus which is taken in daily doses of oral medication. These work by mimicking the effects of a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces appetite. Clinical trials have shown that semaglutide can significantly reduce blood sugar levels as well as lead to weight loss in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

If all other types of treatment fail, patients can be prescribed direct administration of insulin itself, but this is generally avoided where possible since it has a higher level of risk, especially of overdosing which can lead to serious consequences from hypoglycemia.

Is there prevention for Type 2 diabetes? 

Despite these treatment options, it is important to remember that the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes and avoid the health problems that follow is to take steps to prevent the disease from developing in the first place. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting regular check-ups to check your blood sugar levels and overall health.

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