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Get the Most Value From Your Diabetes Medicines

Learn how to work with your medicines to get the best care.

Exercise + Diabetes Medicine = Better Control continued...

Some people with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their blood sugar levels by lifestyle changes alone, to a point where they may be able to stop taking diabetes medicines. Others may be able to lower the dosage of the diabetes medicines they take.

Nevertheless, Jellinger says, "There are patients who do all the right things and still require many medicines."

Healthy living is essential for everyone with diabetes, but the benefits are most obvious in people who have been diagnosed early in the course of the disease. "Timing is everything," Gavin says.

Consistently monitoring your blood sugar also helps you get the most from your diabetes medicines. It is especially important when you are changing your diabetes medicines or trying to get down to your goal.

"The ultimate goal for everyone is to have a normal blood glucose concentration," Robert Rizza, MD, president-elect of the American Diabetes Association, tells WebMD. But in doing so, sometimes it's possible to go too low and develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

"As you come down to closer to what normal physiology is, maintaining that balance is more difficult and requires more attention," Rizza says.

"The more frequently you check your sugars, the better it is," Martin Abrahamson, MD, acting chief medical officer of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University, tells WebMD.

By testing often and at various times -- before and after meals, in the morning and before bed -- you can create a detailed picture of how your diabetes medicines are working in your body. But not only do you have to test, you also have to remember to record the results and share them with your doctor.

"When patients come and see me at the clinic and say, 'I left my logbook at home,' it's very difficult for me to make adjustments to treatment," Abrahamson says.

Controlling Diabetes: Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

"You really need to start with controlling the blood sugar, because that's the environment in which everything else has to take place," Gavin says.

But that's not all there is to managing diabetes, he says. You must also pay careful attention to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which tend to be high in people with diabetes.

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