The first step to treating diabetes is testing to determine if a person has the condition in the first place. Routine screening of type 2 diabetes is recommended after the age of 45 by the American Diabetes Association, especially for overweight individuals. Those who are living a sedentary lifestyle or have complicating risks for cardiovascular disease or other metabolic diseases are more likely to be screened earlier. After determining if a patient has diabetes, a physician will usually recommend they undergo a lifestyle change towards healthy diet and exercise, but most people also require the help of diabetes medications and insulin therapy.
Glucagon is a hormone that causes the release of glucose from the liver (for example, it promotes gluconeogenesis). Glucagon can be lifesaving and every patient with diabetes who has a history of hypoglycemia (particularly those on insulin) should have a glucagon kit. Families and friends of those with diabetes need to be taught how to administer glucagon, since obviously the patients will not be able to do it themselves in an emergency situation. Another lifesaving device that should be mentioned is very simple; a medic-alert bracelet should be worn by all patients with diabetes.
Insulin is released into the blood by beta cells (β-cells), found in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, in response to rising levels of blood glucose, typically after eating. Insulin is used by about two-thirds of the body's cells to absorb glucose from the blood for use as fuel, for conversion to other needed molecules, or for storage. Lower glucose levels result in decreased insulin release from the beta cells and in the breakdown of glycogen to glucose. This process is mainly controlled by the hormone glucagon, which acts in the opposite manner to insulin.