What’s best? Medication or lifestyle changes?
Most people at the pre-diabetes stage should focus first on lifestyle changes including diet, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight. Medications may be prescribed to manage related conditions and prescriptions will likely be needed if pre-diabetes progresses into Type 2 diabetes.
Should I be taking a medication?
Once you have been tested to determine your blood sugar levels, your healthcare provider will be able to determine whether medication is appropriate. It is important to understand the possible side-effects of each medication, and what to do if you experience them.
Depending on your unique health factors, your healthcare provider may also prescribe a blood sugar monitor that you can carry with you to check your blood sugar levels throughout the day. This information will help track what is happening in your body and will help you understand the effect of what you eat and drink on your blood sugar levels. This will help you learn which foods and drinks to avoid.
Can I go from having pre-diabetes to having neither pre-diabetes NOR diabetes?
Yes, it is possible. By committing to and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, some people are able to reverse their pre-diabetes or avoid or postpone its progression to diabetes. Even people who have diabetes can prevent it from progressing further and can avoid many diabetes complications by adopting a healthy lifestyle. How much can be avoided usually depends on the lifestyle changes that are made, and how early they are made.
What treatments are most helpful?
For most people, the “big three” lifestyle changes are diet, exercise, and weight loss. For smokers, a program to stop smoking is also extremely important. Some changes, like reducing stress, may seem small, but they can have a large impact on many different areas of life that they should not be ignored.
Remember, any step that you take towards a healthy lifestyle is good and if some steps feel easier than others, take them sooner rather than later. Then, use the success from your easier steps to take on the more challenging changes.
If your doctor prescribes medication, it is to prevent the disease from getting worse. It doesn’t “fix” things, or make a healthy lifestyle less important. Some people with diabetes will always need some help from medications, but a healthy lifestyle will make a difference.
This content was last reviewed August 2015.