Go to the page content

The following article is intended as patient education and disease awareness and does not serve as medical advice. Decisions regarding treatment for diabetes should be made in consultation with your diabetes healthcare professional team.

diabetes research



Diabetes treatment options for type 2 diabetes typically focus on lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and weight management. Many people with type 2 diabetes may require medications, for example metformin, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors DPP-4is, sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT-2is) or insulin as the disease progresses. 2

In comparison, people with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin treatment to manage their blood sugar levels. 2

Learn more about different treatment options

Type 1 treatment

Type 1 treatment

Understanding the types of type 1 diabetes treatments available and how they get close to your body's natural insulin response.

Frequently asked questions
3 min. read

Frequently asked questions

Find some of the common questions and concerns about starting diabetes treatment.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes 

People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels due to their immune system attacking their pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections (mimicking the natural response of the pancreas).  2

Types of insulin treatment 

1. Basal insulin

Long-acting insulin that provides a constant and steady release of insulin. Basal insulin keeps a low and consistent level of insulin in your blood over a period of time and is usually administrated once or twice daily. 3


2. Mealtime insulin

Mealtime insulin, also known as 'bolus insulin', is fast-acting insulin that brings down spikes in blood sugar after eating. Mealtime insulin is injected before you eat and is sometimes taken in addition to long-acting insulin.  3

3. Premix insulins

Combines two insulins in a single injection. Premix insulins help control blood sugar throughout the day (copying the role of basal insulin) and during mealtimes (copying the role of mealtime insulin). 3,4

Ways to take insulin treatments

  • Injections  
    Insulin pens are one of the most common ways to self-administer insulin daily. Many pens are available, including pre-filled disposable pens and refillable durable pens. 5

  • Insulin pumps  
    A small, computerised device, known as an insulin pump, can be used to administer insulin for people with type 1 diabetes. An insulin pump works by gradually releasing insulin over the course of the day. 5

Treatment for type 2 diabetes  

Type 2 diabetes treatment guidelines are considerably different to type 1 treatment guidelines. While type 1 is dependent on insulin injections, type 2 diabetes may be able to be managed with diet and exercise, but may also require medication as the disease progresses. These medications can include: metformin, GLP-1 RAs, DPP-4is or SGLT-2is as the disease progresses.2


Metformin is generally the first medicine prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes in addition to diet and exercise to maintain their target blood sugar level. Metformin is a tablet that works by reducing the amount of sugar your liver releases into the blood and helps your body respond better to insulin.6

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists (RA) 

GLP-1 RAs treatment is an injectable medication that mimics a naturally occurring hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) to regulate your sugar levels. GLP-1 is produced in the stomach when you eat and stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin.  Some GLP-1 RAs are given once a week and others are given once a day.7-9

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors (DPP-4is)

DPP-4is are oral medications that are given once or twice a day. They help increase the amount of insulin produced after you eat and reduce the amount of sugar released by the liver when it is not needed.9

SGLT-2 inhibitors

Sodium-glucose cotransporters-2 inhibitors (SGLT-2is) are an oral medication given once a day that increases the amount of glucose removed from your body through your kidneys. This action removes excess blood glucose via urine. 

Insulin injections  

Depending on the stage of your type 2 diabetes, or your treatment needs, you may require insulin injections to manage your blood sugar. There are different types of insulin, and they vary on how quickly they work, when they are given with respect to meals and how long they work.3,4

Remember, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and often a diabetes treatment algorithm is used as a tool to determine treatment. Don’t be disheartened if your treatment plan changes over time.1,2

Treatment for gestational and child diabetes  

  • Gestational diabetes treatment  
    Simply changing your diet and exercise routine may be enough to combat gestational diabetes for some pregnant women. For others, medication and insulin injections are required to balance blood sugar levels. Speak with your healthcare professional team if you have any concerns.11,12

  • Child diabetes type 1 treatment  
    To keep your child’s blood sugar at healthy levels, they’ll need daily insulin injections. Blood sugar monitoring, carbohydrate counting and regular exercise are also strongly recommended.  2

  • Child diabetes type 2 treatment  
    Type 2 diabetes in children is similar to pre-diabetes symptoms and treatment in adults. Healthy eating, regular exercise, blood sugar monitoring and weight loss may assist in the management of your child's diabetes. In some instances, medication will need to be administered.  2

Related articles about treatment of diabetes

  1. WHO. Diabetes. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes. Last accessed: January 2024.
  2. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Atlas 10th Edition, 2021. Available from: https://diabetesatlas.org/idfawp/resource-files/2021/07/IDF_Atlas_10th_Edition_2021.pdf. Last accessed: January 2024.
  3. National Diabetes Services Scheme. Fact Sheet: Insulin. Available from: https://www.ndss.com.au/wp-content/uploads/fact-sheet-insulin.pdf Last accessed: January 2024.
  4. Eisenberg Center at Oregon Health & Science University. Premixed insulin for type 2 diabetes. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK45604/. Last accessed: May 2022.
  5. Shah RB, Patel M, Maahs DM, Shah VN. Insulin delivery methods: Past, present and future. Int J Pharm Investig 2016; 6:1–9.
  6. Diabetes Australia. Meet Metformin. Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/blog/meet-metformin/ Last accessed: January 2024.
  7. Zhao X, Wang M, Wen Z, et al. GLP-1 Receptor Agonists: Beyond Their Pancreatic Effects. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 2021; 12:721135.
  8. Kim W, Egan JM. The role of incretins in glucose homeostasis and diabetes treatment. Pharmacol Rev.2008; 60:470–512.
  9. Diabetes Australia. Medicines for your diabetes. Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/managing-diabetes/medicines/ Last accessed: January 2024.
  10. Pittampalli S, Upadyayula S, Mekala HM et al. Risks vs Benefits for SGLT2 Inhibitor Medications. Fed Pract. 2018;35(7):45-48.
  11. Langer O, Conway DL, Berkus MD, et al. A comparison of glyburide and insulin in women with gestational diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med 2000; 343:1134–1138. 
  12. Diabetes Australia. Gestational diabetes. Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/gestational-diabetes/ Last accessed: January 2024.