Three new studies show that teaching people about their diabetes and giving them strategies to manage it can help them lower their blood sugar levels.
Each study examined different approaches to diabetes education and how they affected blood sugar control, the centerpiece to good diabetes management.
"Diabetes education is fundamental," says Joel Zonszein, M.D., at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "And, the time and effort spent with patients relates nicely to better outcomes. In these studies, the strategy is a little bit different in each, but it shows that education works."
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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.
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Researchers set out to encourage study participants to change their behavior - to stop thinking of their blood sugar levels as either "bad" or "good." Instead, they asked them to identify factors that may have contributed to that number, and seek strategies to change it and keep it from happening again.
Long-term blood sugar control is measured by averaging a person's blood sugar levels over two to three months' time. This results in a number known as HbA1C, or A1C. In general, people with diabetes are encouraged to keep their A1C levels below 7 percent.
"We don't allow labeling," says Katie Weinger, Ph.D., at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. "Those numbers are information, and all information is valuable."
Those in the individual education programs were able to bring their A1C below 7 percent more than 20 percent of the time, compared with nearly 14 percent for those in the group education programs, and about 13 percent for those who did not attend any educational programs.
Dr. Weinger compared the A1C levels in her behavior change group with those who participated in standard group or individual diabetes education programs. At the start of the study, the average hemoglobin A1C was 9 percent. People in the structured behavioral group reduced their A1C by almost 1 percent, while those in standard group and individualized education programs dropped their A1C by about 0.5 percent.
In the second study, researchers compared the success rates of more than 600 people in two states who received diabetes education as a group, as an individual, or not at all. At the start of the study, the average A1C was above 7 percent.
The third study focused mostly on low-income black and Latino patients who had trouble controlling their diabetes. The average A1C at the start of the study was a little over 9 percent.
Participants either watched a video on diabetes management and received coaching sessions via telephone, or were given an educational brochure. A1C levels dropped about by about 0.5 percent in both groups.
"For people who are struggling with self-management, help is available from your medical team," says Dr. Weinger. "There are people trained and able to support and help you. Diabetes is difficult to manage alone."
The results of the studies were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.