Treatment and management

What is the treatment and management of diabetes?

The treatment and management of diabetes can be regarded as having 3 broad phases –prevention, acute care and secondary prevention and monitoring.

Prevention

Type 1 diabetes is strongly linked to family history with the condition, but there is no known way to prevent the condition. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for managing the symptoms and long-term complications associated with the condition.

Prevention activities can help people at risk of type 2 diabetes before symptoms appear. Healthy eating and physical activity in everyday life (such as workplaces, schools, communities and active travel), not smoking and the use of medicines can help manage levels of biomedical risk factors such as high blood glucose (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners 2020).

Prevention may also come from interventions that target wider social determinants of health, including income, education, housing, early childhood development and access to affordable health services (Marmot et al. 2008).

Prevention services are commonly delivered by general practitioners (GPs), alongside midwives, nurses, pharmacists, Indigenous health workers and allied health professionals.

The Australian Government has prioritised preventative health action through the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030 which aims to create a stronger and more effective preventative health system, to enhance the health and wellbeing of Australians. More information on the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030 can be found on the Department of Health website.

Acute care

Acute care is treatment given during and immediately after an acute diabetes complication, such as ketoacidosis. It includes emergency care provided before a person reaches hospital, as well as care given in the emergency department and in hospital.

Secondary prevention and monitoring

Secondary prevention is the treatment of diabetes once detected. Treatment can be based on lifestyle modification alone (diet and exercise), lifestyle modification and anti-diabetic drugs or lifestyle modification and insulin. Routine screening for blood glucose and key risk areas including eyes and feet should be done to effectively reduce complications.

References

Marmot M, Friel S, Bell R, Houweling TA and Taylor S (2008) Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health, The lancet, 372(9650):1661-9. 

RACGP (The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) (2020) Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice, RACGP, accessed 8 March 2021.