The goals of diabetes treatment are to keep blood glucose within
normal range and to prevent long-term complications. Why control
blood glucose? In the first place, diabetes can cause short-term
effects: some are unpleasant and some are dangerous. These include
thirst, frequent urination, weakness, lack of ability to
concentrate, loss of coordination, and blurred vision. Loss of
consciousness is possible with very high or low blood sugar levels,
but is more of a danger in insulin-dependent than in
In the second place, the long-term complications of diabetes may
result from many years of high blood glucose. Research is under way
to find out if this is true and to learn if careful control can
help prevent complications. Meanwhile, most doctors feel that if
people with diabetes keep their blood glucose levels under control,
they will reduce the risk of complications.
In 1986, a National Institutes of Health panel of experts
recommended that the best treatment for noninsulin-dependent
diabetes is a diet that helps the person maintain normal weight. In
people who are overweight, losing weight is the one treatment that
is clearly effective in controlling diabetes.
In some people, exercise can help keep weight and diabetes under
control. However, when diet and exercise alone can't control
diabetes, two other kinds of treatment are available: oral diabetes
medications and insulin. The treatment a doctor suggests depends on
the person's age, lifestyle, and the severity of the diabetes.