Treatment Endocrinology

Diabetes Mellitus
Treatments

The goal of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as safely possible. Since diabetes may greatly increase risk for heart disease and peripheral artery disease, measures to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels are an essential part of diabetes treatment as well.

People with diabetes must take responsibility for their day-to-day care. This includes monitoring blood glucose levels, dietary management, maintaining physical activity, keeping weight and stress under control, monitoring oral medications and, if required, insulin use via injections or pump. To help patients achieve this, UCSF's Diabetes Teaching Center offers self-management educational programs that emphasize individualized diabetes care. The program enables patients to make more consistent and appropriate adjustments in their therapy and lifestyle.

Dietary Management and Physical Activity

Modifying eating habits and increasing physical activity are typically the first steps toward reducing blood sugar levels. At UCSF Medical Center, all patients work with their doctor and certified dietician to develop a dietary plan. Our Teaching Center conducts workshops that provide patients with information on food nutrient content, healthy cooking and exercise.

Insulin Therapy

People with type 1 diabetes require multiple insulin injections each day to maintain safe insulin levels. Insulin is often required to treat type 2 diabetes too. Using an insulin pump is an alternative to injections. The pump is about the size of a pager and is usually worn on your belt. Insulin is delivered through a small tube (catheter) that is placed under the skin (usually in the abdomen).

There are four major types of insulin:

  • Rapid-acting
  • Short-acting
  • Intermediate-acting
  • Long-acting

Your doctor will determine your dose and how often you need to take insulin. There is no standard insulin dose as it depends on factors such as your body weight, when you eat, how often you exercise and how much insulin your body produces.

Oral Medications

Sometimes blood sugar levels remain high in people with type 2 diabetes even though they eat in a healthy manner and exercise. When this happens, medications taken in pill form may be prescribed. The medications work in several different ways. These include improve the effectiveness of the body's natural insulin, reduce blood sugar production, increase insulin production and inhibit blood sugar absorption. Oral diabetes medications are sometimes taken in combination with insulin.

Learn more about our Diabetes Education Online and classes and workshops at the UCSF Diabetes Center.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Recommended reading

Gestational Diabetes: Counting Carbs

Counting your carbohydrate intake due to gestational diabetes? Use these menus, each of which contains 30 grams of carbohydrates, to simplify your dieting.

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