When diet and exercise are not enough to keep blood sugar levels under control, treatment for diabetes involves the use of diabetic medications. Read on to learn about the many types of diabetes medicine, and how they can help you manage your diabetes.
Insulin Treatment for Diabetes
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas either doesn’t produce sufficient insulin or the body becomes resistant to insulin’s function. Because the body needs insulin to move glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to the cells, insulin is a frequently used treatment for diabetes. All type 1 diabetics need to take insulin to survive, and some type 2 diabetics are also prescribed medicinal insulin.
Insulin comes in many forms. Depending on the way your body responds, your doctor may prescribe one or more of these insulin types as treatment for diabetes:
- Intermediate acting: This diabetes medicine begins to work in one to three hours, are most effective at lowering blood sugar in six to 12 hours, and stop working in 20 to 24 hours.
- Fast acting: Also called “regular insulin,” this diabetes medicine has the most power to lower blood sugar in two to five hours, and doesn’t work after five to eight hours.
- Very fast acting: The fastest acting types of insulin begin to work within five to 15 minutes, and are most effective from 45 to 90 minutes.
In some cases, doctors prescribe insulin mixtures to as treatment for diabetes, to help keep blood sugar under control.
Oral Diabetes Medicine
Instead of insulin, your doctor may prescribe oral medications for diabetes. Many generic and brand-name diabetic medications are available, and fall into one of these five basic categories:
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors: Taken with the first bite of food, these medications for diabetes slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine. These diabetic medications may have gastrointestinal side effects.
- Biguanides: This diabetes medicine shuts off the liver’s excess glucose production. People with congestive heart, liver or renal problems should not choose this treatment for diabetes.
- Meglitinides: These diabetic medications, taken before meals, work by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin.
- Sulfonylureas: These medications for diabetes, also taken with meals, stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin as well.
- Thiazolidinediones: These diabetic medications increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This treatment for diabetes may make birth control methods less effective.
Other Diabetic Medications
In addition to diabetes medicine that helps keep blood sugar under control, doctors may sometimes recommend these other medications to prevent other complications and problems:
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- High blood pressure medicines
- Low-dose aspirin therapy.
Diabetes Services. (n.d.). Diabetes medications. Retrieved March 31, 2010, from http://www.diabetesnet.com/diabetes_information/diabetes_medications.php.
Lifeclinic International. (2010). Medications for diabetes â€“ Types of insulin. Retrieved March 31, 2010, from http://www.lifeclinic.com/focus/Diabetes/insulin_types.asp.
Mayo Clinic. (2009). Type 1 diabetes: Treatment and drugs. Retrieved March 31, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes/DS00329/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.