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Can you "reverse" type 2 diabetes? Can you cure it?
Diabetes can go into remission. When diabetes is in remission, you have no signs or symptoms of it. But your risk of relapse is higher than normal.1 That's why you make the same daily healthy choices that you do for active type 2 diabetes.
There is no known cure for type 2 diabetes. But it can be controlled. And in some cases, it goes into remission.
For some people, a diabetes-healthy lifestyle is enough to control their blood sugar levels. That means losing weight if you are overweight, eating healthy foods, and being more active. But most people with type 2 diabetes also need to take one or more medicines or insulin.
Of those people who don't need diabetes medicine, some find that their diabetes does "reverse" with weight control, diabetes-healthy eating, and exercise. Their bodies are still able to make and use insulin, and their blood sugar levels go back to normal. Their diabetes is in remission.
Remission is most likely in the early stage of diabetes or after a big weight loss. It can also happen 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, because the body may slowly lose its ability to make insulin over time.
Whether your diabetes is under control or in remission, the keys to keeping high blood sugar down are weight control, exercise, and a diabetes-healthy diet.
There's no way to know in advance if your body can "reverse" your diabetes. It happens for some people and not for others, despite the same diet, exercise, weight loss, or even bariatric surgery. Experts don't fully understand why.
Your goal is to do whatever it takes to keep your blood sugar in your target range. You may go into remission, or you may not. Keep these guidelines in mind.
Buse JB, et al. (2009). Consensus statement: How do we define cure of diabetes? Diabetes Care, 32(11): 2133–2135.
July 16, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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