If diet and exercise alone don’t help you to control your Type 2 diabetes, you may need to take oral diabetes medications. There are several types of medications that can be used as part of your diabetes treatment plan, and your doctor may choose to give you one, or several in combination.
Diabetes Medications Available
Six classes of diabetes medications are currently available. Your diabetes treatment plan may include the following:
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, which lower blood glucose by slowing down the breakdown of starches and sugar
- Biguanides, which decrease the amount of gluconeogenesis, or the production of glucose, in your liver. The metformin diabetes medication is the most well-known of the biguanides.
- DPP-4 inhibitors, which disrupt a process your body uses to break down glucose in the body
- Meglitinides, which stimulate the pancreas to increase insulin production
- Sulfonylureas, which also stimulate the pancreas
- Thiazolidinediones, which help insulin work better in the body.
Using medication for diabetes treatment can lead to gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea and excess gas. Typically, your doctor will ask you to take the medications with a meal to reduce these side effects. Some Type 2 diabetes medications can lead to more serious problems, including heart disease and liver problems. Your doctor will likely include screenings to check for these problems as part of your diabetes treatment plan.
For many people with Type 2 diabetes who decide to add medication to their treatment plan, metformin diabetes medication is used as the first line of therapy. Your doctor may add other types of diabetes medications to this treatment plan. As each diabetes treatment medication works slightly differently, a combination of complementary medications may yield the best results.
Taking your Medicine
While the metformin diabetes medication is widely recommended, there is no pill that can cure diabetes. Your diabetes treatment may be adjusted over time, with new medications added and others removed. It’s important to check your blood sugar frequently and to talk to your doctor at each visit about the control you have over your Type 2 diabetes.
Follow your doctor’s instructions and take your diabetes medication as directed, even if you’re feeling better. If you’re under severe stress, have an infection or have surgery, your oral medication for diabetes management may not be enough to control your blood sugar, and you may eventually need insulin therapy. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you think your medication levels should be adjusted.
American Diabetes Association. (2010). Can diabetes pills help me? Retrieved January 10, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/oral-medications/can-diabetes-pills-help-me.html
American Diabetes Association. (2010). What are my options? Retrieved January 10, 2010, from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/oral-medications/what-are-my-options.html
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2010). What I need to know about diabetes medicines. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/medicines_ez/#what