There is no known cure for type 2 diabetes. But it can be managed. And in some cases, it goes into remission. Avoid products that promise a cure for type 2 diabetes.
What is remission?
Remission means having an A1c of 6.5% or lower without using diabetes medicine for at least 3 months. Some people who don't need diabetes medicine go into remission with weight loss, diabetes-focused healthy eating, and exercise. Their bodies are still able to make and use insulin.
When diabetes is in remission, the risk that it could come back is higher than normal. You would still need to make the same healthy choices that you would for active diabetes.
Remission is most likely:
- In the early stage of diabetes, before medicine is needed.
- After a big weight loss.
- After bariatric surgery for weight loss, which can trigger healthy changes in the body's insulin system.
Remission is less likely in the later stages of diabetes. This is because over time the body may slowly lose its ability to make insulin.
There's no way to know in advance if type 2 diabetes will go into remission. It happens for some people and not others, even if they have the same diet, exercise, weight loss, or weight-loss surgery. Experts don't fully understand why.
How can you care for yourself when you have type 2 diabetes?
- Keep your blood sugar at a target level (which you set with your doctor).
- Carbohydrate—the body's main source of fuel—affects blood sugar more than any other nutrient. Carbohydrate is in fruits, vegetables, milk, and yogurt. It also is in breads, cereals, vegetables such as potatoes and corn, and sugary foods such as candy and cakes. Follow your meal plan to know how much carbohydrate to eat at each meal and snack.
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports. Try to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least 2 times a week.
- Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
- Check your blood sugar as often as your doctor recommends. It is important to keep track of any symptoms you have, such as low blood sugar. Also tell your doctor if you have any changes in your activities, diet, or insulin use.
- Talk to your doctor before you start taking aspirin every day. Aspirin can help certain people lower their risk of a heart attack or stroke. But taking aspirin isn't right for everyone, because it can cause serious bleeding.
- Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
- Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure at normal levels. You may need to take one or more medicines to reach your goals. Take them exactly as directed. Do not stop or change a medicine without talking to your doctor first.
Current as of: April 13, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology