Mary Ellen Phipps

Mary Ellen Phipps

Mary Ellen Phipps, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!

New Treatments for Diabetes & Reducing Social Stigmas

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finger being pricked for new treatments for diabetes

New treatments for diabetes shouldn’t be an intimidating topic to talk about with your health care team.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma and blame associated with HbA1c levels and starting new treatments for diabetes. My goal is to show you why making changes to your medication routine isn’t something to be ashamed of, and to encourage you to work with your healthcare team to determine the best treatment options for you. 

This post was sponsored by Med-IQ to help generate awareness around type 2 diabetes and how to advocate for your own treatment course with your healthcare team. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Sanofi to write about the realities of diabetes as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.

Social stigma surrounding type 2 diabetes

Many people with diabetes feel ashamed for having diabetes and even more so for needing to take medications.

It’s important to not keep your health a secret. Family, friends, and loved ones play a huge role in our overall health. Talk with your loved ones about diabetes and build a support/care team.  Diabetes has a strong genetic link and is influenced by many different factors… some of which we still don’t understand fully. Talk to the people who love you. Join support groups. You do not have to do this alone.

Making type 2 diabetes treatment decisions

Diabetes is a 24/7 disease that requires a multi-layered approach. This means everything from medications, to nutrition, to activity levels, to sleep, and more can impact how you manage your diabetes.

How do you know when to consider a new treatment for diabetes? 

Did you know most people with type 2 diabetes are on 7 different medications? So, any chance to combine some of those medications into one treatment can be helpful to people with diabetes. 

But, considering a new treatment for diabetes can be a scary topic for some people. And, it also has a lot of stigma and shame associated with it unfortunately. 

This is because many people don’t realize the true progressive (aka, changing) nature of type 2 diabetes as a disease. So, rather than seeing the need for an increase/intensification in treatment as a failure, it should be viewed as simply a natural progression of the disease, because that’s what it is.

New diabetes therapies or treatments can help reduce the overall number of medications you take in a day and can drastically improve your quality of life. 

woman tapping insulin syringe types of insulin new treatments for diabetes

When to consider changing your diabetes treatment options

Your healthcare team may recommend a new treatment for diabetes if:

  1. Your current medication regimen is negatively impacting your quality of life (side effects, logically difficult, etc.)
  2. Current blood sugars are not meeting your target goals

What are the treatment options for type 2 diabetes?

Treatment options for type 2 diabetes range from lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, stress management, sleep hygiene, etc.), to oral medications, to injectable medications

What is the best Type II diabetes medication?

None of these treatment options is better than the other. The best option is going to be the specific treatment combination that helps YOU live your best life with diabetes and meet your blood sugar goals at the same time. 

Do people with type 2 diabetes use insulin?

Yes, some people with type 2 diabetes need to utilize an outside (injected) source of insulin to manage their diabetes. This is not a bad or negative thing. It just is. Remember, diabetes is a progressive disease and more often than not, the need to go on insulin has nothing to do with your behaviors or choices, and much more to do with the natural progression of the disease. 

woman testing blood sugar new treatments for diabetes

Type 2 diabetes insulin treatment decisions

When to start insulin and/or a new treatment for diabetes is up to you and your healthcare team. It’s important to trust your doctor and other healthcare professionals. If you do not feel your healthcare team listens to your concerns and answers your questions adequately, it’s ok to search for a new doctor.

It’s ok to use insulin therapy for type 2 diabetes

Many times when I speak with people living with type 2 diabetes, they speak in terms of “trying to avoid insulin” or “had to go on insulin” as if somehow they failed or didn’t live up to an invisible expectation society has put on them. So, I’m going to be a bit repetitive here and again say that diabetes is a progressive disease. And, your body needing insulin does not mean you have failed or done anything wrong. It’s a natural progression of the disease and it’s ok.

Discussing new therapies for type 2 diabetes with your doctor

There is no shame in intensifying your diabetes treatment. It’s simply what your body needs. This could mean starting insulin or another medication. It could mean changing medications, or taking more of a medication.  

Intensifying your treatment will help you achieve your blood sugar goals quicker and reduce the risk of damage to your organs which occurs when you have higher than recommended blood sugars

testing blood sugar new treatments for diabetes

Diabetes combination therapy options

Instead of being afraid of injectable medications, think of them as a tool to have more control over your diabetes. Remember, changing your treatment plan has the potential to reach your blood sugar goals quicker.

What is combination therapy for diabetes?

Combination therapy is a treatment that combines two or more medications into one treatment or dose. 

Combination injectable therapy for type 2 diabetes

These combination therapies are used quite often with type 2 diabetes to decrease the number of injections that need to be given. There can also be less side effects when medications are given in combination. Usually combination therapies are titrated (increased) slowly to minimize the side effects until you reach the correct level to help you achieve your blood sugar goals.

GLP 1

GLP-1 (or glucagon-like peptide) is produced in the intestine and released by your gut when you eat. “GLP-1 agonists” are a commonly used category of diabetes medications.

What does GLP 1 do?

GLP-1 works with the stomach to use insulin more effectively and lower blood sugar levels after you eat. 

GLP-1 agonists mimic the actions of GLP-1. When your blood sugar level starts to rise after you eat, these medications stimulate your pancreas to secrete more insulin. The extra insulin helps lower your blood sugar levels.

GLP-1 and insulin combo

GLP-1 agonists and insulin are a common combination therapy for people with type 2 diabetes. Insulin helps lower blood sugar levels. GLP-1 agonists work with the stomach to use insulin more effectively and lower blood sugar levels after meals.

What is the best way to treat or control diabetes?

Consider your diabetes care team – do you have a diabetes psychologist or mental health professional to address anxiety, depression, or behavioral modifications? What about a dietitian, eye doctor, and foot doctor? Patients might also need a nephrologist (kidney doctor) and cardiologist. Building a healthcare team is both necessary and beneficial.  

Building a strong relationship with your healthcare team can also help you choose realistic diabetes goals. There is a lot of work that goes into managing diabetes and realistic goals are needed. 

Learn more with Med-IQ

Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with diabetes and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 6 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize and to send a follow-up survey as part of this same initiative. 

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