TREATMENT OF DIABETES MELLITUS
The goal in treating diabetes is to keep the patient's blood sugar level in the
normal range. A major factor in the management of diabetes is patient education. The
patient must realize that diabetes is a lifelong disease which he can manage if he
maintains a balance of diet, exercise, and sometimes medications.
a. Treatment for Insulin-Dependent Diabetes. Generally, treatment includes
insulin injections, regular exercise, and a balanced meal plan that limits the
consumption of sugar. This diabetic patient may need to eat three meals per day plus
two or three snacks a day. This food will have to be eaten at the same time each day in
order to balance insulin which is also given at the same time each day.
Food raises the level of blood sugar while insulin lowers the level of blood
sugar. Therefore, the effects of food and insulin must be balanced in order to
b. Treatment for Noninsulin- Dependent Diabetes. Generally, these patients
are treated with a diet plan designed specifically for each patient. The overweight
patient must lose weight because fat keeps the body from using the insulin it produces
effectively. Sugar intake is restricted, and the patient must follow an exercise plan. The
patient may need to take medication, either orally or by injection, if diet and exercise do
not bring the blood sugar level in the normal range. Such medication does not correct
the blood sugar level alone. The patient must adhere to a special diet and exercise
plan, both of which have been designed for him.
c. Diet. The amount and kind of food the diabetic patient consumes is most
important in controlling this disease. For example, the diabetic who consumes more
carbohydrates than he can use or store will eventually develop ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis (excessive amounts of ketone acids in the body) is a condition which can
progress from severe illness to coma to death. If the diabetic patient takes insulin but
does not eat enough food, he may develop hyperinsulinism (insulin shock) which results
in hypoglycemia (lower than normal level of glucose in the blood). The results are the
same as for ketoacidosis. It is very important for the diabetic patient to eat both the
right kind of food and the right amount of food. A special diet is prescribed for each
diabetic based on that person's sex, age, height, weight, activity, state of health, former
dietary habits, and cultural background. General rules include the following:
(1) The diet will include a balance of calories, percentages of
carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
(2) These foods are usually excluded: sugar, candy, honey, jam, jelly,
marmalade, preserves, syrup, molasses, pie, cake, cookies, condensed milk, chewing
gum containing sugar, and non-diet soft drinks.