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Diabetes treatments

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Diabetes test being performed by a clinician on a patient's finger to assess treatment options

What types of diabetes are there?

There are two main types of diabetes: type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes.

Each require different methods of treatment:


The main treatment for type-1 diabetes is lifelong insulin replacement. This involves insulin being injected, and the dose must be closely adjusted to avoid high or low blood sugars in the presence of varying levels of physical activity, food intake and the physical state of the person taking the insulin. 

Since the discovery of insulin, there have been major changes in the production and manufacture of insulin to improve the consistency and quality of insulin products. We have now moved away from animal derived insulin and most insulin currently sold is genetically engineered from bacteria. 

The insulin that is then produced is either stabilised without retardant, soluble insulin (Actrapid or Humulin S) or is crystallised or retarded with other agents (Ultratard, Humulin I and Insulatard). A small amount of animal derived insulin is still used by patients who have been stabilised on it, and in whom there is no clinical indication to switch to human insulin.


The mainstay of treatment in Type 2 diabetes should always be diet. A reduction in sugary foods and an increase in healthier foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, can benefit type-2 diabetes sufferers. 

Where glycaemic control cannot be maintained tablets may be added.

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