Just because your doctor changed your medication doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
When your doctor says they want to change your diabetes treatment plan to improve your blood sugar control, it might feel discouraging. You may wonder if you did something wrong. However, it’s natural for diabetes to progress over time, despite your best efforts. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are “failing” to manage your diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes progresses to some degree in most people, but it may progress faster or slower depending on your diabetes management. Sticking to your treatment plan may help slow the progression of diabetes. In some cases, it might even help regress the condition. The less you stick to the treatment plan, the higher the risk of diabetes complications.
How might my diabetes treatment change over time?
For many individuals, diabetes treatment often starts with lifestyle changes. Some people are able to manage their diabetes with diet changes, regular exercise, healthy sleep, stress relief, and so on. (Find out how New York politician Eric Adams managed his diabetes with lifestyle changes.)
Over time, you may have a harder time managing diabetes with lifestyle changes alone. If your diabetes progresses, your doctor may prescribe oral medications for diabetes. These medicines either help your body produce more insulin, make your body more sensitive to insulin, or allow glucose to be secreted through urine.
Some people may eventually require insulin to treat type 2 diabetes. This may happen if you develop insulin resistance, which is when your pancreas produces more and more insulin but the body isn’t using it well. This tires the pancreas out, and it may stop creating insulin altogether. When this happens, insulin injections may help.
What are temporary tweaks to your plan?
Sometimes, your diabetes treatment plan may need to change during certain periods of your life. For example, you may need to adjust your medication regimen:
- During pregnancy
- While taking a medication that affects your blood sugar levels
- If you have an infection
- During hospitalization
In these cases, these adjustments to the treatment plan might be temporary. And again, it’s not a sign that you have “failed” your treatment plan.
The best way to understand and manage your diabetes treatment plan is to check in with your doctor regularly. They can help you find the best treatment for you and catch potential concerns early. That way, if your type 2 diabetes is starting to progress, your treatment can adapt appropriately.
Tara Kim, MD, is an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health.