Diabetes Treatment

The immediate goals of treatment are to treat diabetic ketoacidosis and high blood glucose levels. Because Type 1 diabetes can come on suddenly and the symptoms can be severe, newly diagnosed people may need to stay in the hospital.

The long-term goals of treatment are to:

  • Prolong life
  • Reduce symptoms
  • Prevent diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputation of limbs

These goals are accomplished through:

  • Careful self-testing of blood glucose levels
  • Education
  • Exercise
  • Foot care
  • Insulin use
  • Meal planning and weight control 


Insulin lowers blood sugar by allowing it to leave the bloodstream and enter cells. Everyone needs insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot make their own insulin. They must take insulin every day.

Insulin is usually injected under the skin. In some cases, a pump delivers the insulin continuously. Insulin does not come in pill form.

Insulin preparations differ in how fast they start to work and how long they last. The health care professional will review your blood glucose levels to determine the appropriate type of insulin you should use. More than one type of insulin may be mixed together in an injection to achieve the best blood glucose control.

The injections are needed, in general, from one to four times a day. People are taught how to give insulin injections by their health care provider or a diabetes nurse educator. At first, a child's injections may be given by a parent or other adult. By age 14, most children can be expected (but should not be required) to give their own injections. People with diabetes need to know how to adjust the amount of insulin they are taking in the following situations:

  • When they exercise
  • When they are sick
  • When they will be eating more or less food and calories
  • When they are traveling