Is It Possible to Cure Type 2 Diabetes?

By Mary Pickett, M.D.
Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

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Mary Pickett, M.D., is a lecturer for Harvard Medical School and an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR. At OHSU, she practices general internal medicine and teaches medical residents and students.

Question:

Is it possible to cure Type 2 diabetes?

Answer:

Normally, the hormone insulin triggers a cascade of metabolism activity. When insulin meets a cell in your muscle, fat tissue, or liver, it causes this cell to "soak up" glucose from the blood stream. Then, each cell either packages this sugar for storage or puts the sugar to use as fuel.

With type 2 diabetes, your cells don't respond normally to insulin. This is called "insulin resistance." This problem gets worse if you are overweight. It also gets worse with illness, pregnancy, and ongoing use of some medicines. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, and "antipsychotic" medicines used to treat confusion or psychotic symptoms are especially likely to cause insulin resistance.

Diabetes is typically a life-long condition. Most people who have type 2 diabetes will always need drug therapy to control blood sugars. It helps compensate for their insulin resistance.

But a small number of people with type 2 diabetes can be "cured." In some cases, losing a large amount of weight can get your insulin function back to normal. Examples include:

  • Obese people that are treated with weight loss surgery.

  • High blood sugars that occur when a person is severely ill. The person's metabolism may return to normal after the illness is gone.

  • Diabetes caused by a medicine. Blood sugars may fall into the normal range if the medicine is stopped.

Most doctors are reluctant to say diabetes is "cured," even if the response to insulin appears to become normal. People who have developed diabetes at any time are more likely to have it return. Your doctor will periodically check blood tests to see if the diabetes is coming back. The blood test used most often is called hemoglobin A1C.

By maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly, you decrease your risk of diabetes returning.


Related Video: Beating Type 2 Diabetes

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There's no one-size-fits-all solution to living well with diabetes, but our Type 2 patient experts have these tips to share with you.

Medical Reviewer: Medical Reviewer: Gerald W. Smetana, MD Last Annual Review Date: Last Annual Review Date: August 13, 2013 © 2013 Healthgrades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Indications and Usage for Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection)

Prescription Lantus® is a long-acting insulin used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes and adults and children (6 years and older) with type 1 diabetes for the control of high blood sugar. It should be taken once a day at the same time each day to lower blood glucose.

Do not use Lantus® to treat diabetic ketoacidosis.

Important Safety Information for Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection)

Do not take Lantus® if you are allergic to insulin or any of the inactive ingredients in Lantus®.

You must test your blood sugar levels while using insulin, such as Lantus®. Do not make any changes to your dose or type of insulin without talking to your healthcare provider. Any change of insulin should be made cautiously and only under medical supervision.

Do NOT dilute or mix Lantus® with any other insulin or solution. It will not work as intended and you may lose blood sugar control, which could be serious. Lantus® must only be used if the solution is clear and colorless with no particles visible. Do not share needles, insulin pens or syringes with others.

The most common side effect of insulin, including Lantus®, is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which may be serious. Some people may experience symptoms such as shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat, and blurred vision. Severe hypoglycemia may be serious and life threatening. It may cause harm to your heart or brain. Other possible side effects may include injection site reactions, including changes in fat tissue at the injection site, and allergic reactions, including itching and rash. In rare cases, some allergic reactions may be life threatening.

Tell your doctor about other medicines and supplements you are taking because they can change the way insulin works. Before starting Lantus®, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions including if you have liver or kidney problems, are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding or planning to breast-feed.

Lantus® SoloSTAR® is a disposable prefilled insulin pen. Please talk to your healthcare provider about proper injection technique and follow instructions in the Instruction Leaflet that accompanies the pen.

Please click here or the link below for the full prescribing information for Lantus®

US.GLA.13.04.228 © 2014 sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC, A SANOFI COMPANY


Last Annual Review Date: 2012-03-02 Copyright: Harvard Health Publications

Reference: Diabetes section on Better Medicine


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