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Diabetes Treatment a Burden to Many

Insulin Injections Cause Most Distress

Simpler Diabetes Treatments Needed

As many as 20.8 million adults and children have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Studies suggest that a large percentage of patients with diabetes have poorly controlled blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol because they are not being optimally treated.

Huang says the problem may only get worse as the definition of optimal treatment evolves to include even more drugs and more complicated therapeutic regimens.

“Real innovations in the delivery of treatments are needed to improve the day-to-day experiences of patients with diabetes,” he says.

Ann Albright, PhD, RN, who has been managing her own type 1 diabetes for four decades, says patients often feel overwhelmed by the challenges of managing their disease.

Albright is president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and she is director of the Division of Diabetes Translation for the CDC.

She says patients fare better when they play an active role in their own treatment and have a clear understanding of what they are doing and why.

“Patients need to embrace the concept that this is a self-managed disease,” she tells WebMD. “That doesn’t mean management in isolation, but it does mean taking an active role because patients are the ones who have to live with the treatment.”

Nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and other health care providers whose main job is to educate and motivate patients play a critical role, she says.

Because there are so many facets to managing diabetes, burnout, even among the most diligent patients, is common, she adds.

“As a practitioner and as someone who has lived with diabetes for 40 years, I can tell you it takes a lot of effort to manage this disease,” she says. “But the effort is worth it because the alternative is so much worse.”

ADA President for Medicine and Science John B. Buse, MD, PhD, tells WebMD that the potential downside of increasingly intensive treatment regimens is well-understood.

Buse is also director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill.

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