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All About Diabetes
Diabetes Monitoring
Eating Well
Exercise and Diabetes
Long Term Complications
Medications for Diabetes
Insulin: Key to Health
* Medications for Diabetes

Many people with type 2 diabetes, especially those in the early stages, manage their blood sugar effectively through diet, weight loss, and physical activity. If this does not provide effective control for you, however, there are many medications that can help manage your condition.

If your weight is normal and your blood glucose is not manageable by diet and exercise alone, your doctor may prescribe oral diabetes medications to lower your blood glucose levels. There are five classes of medications available. Each works a bit differently and has its own side effects. If one medication is not enough, your doctor may suggest combining two of these diabetes treatment medications.


Sulfonylureas, such as glimepiride, glyburide, chlorpropamide, glipizide, gliclazide, gliquidone commonly prescribed medications for diabetes. Sulfonylureas work by helping your body make insulin. They can be used alone or with other medications. They have few side effects, but cannot be used by people allergic to sulfa medications.


Biguanides, such as Metformin help the body use insulin more effectively. It is often used by people who are overweight, since it also helps with weight control. It can be taken alone or with another medication, but it may cause side effects, which include nausea or diarrhea.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, such as acarbose and miglitol, work by slowing down the absorption of sugar in your digestive tract. They are often used in combination with another diabetes treatment medication, such as a sulfonylurea. This type of medication can cause stomach or bowel problems in some people.


Repaglinide and nateglinide work by controlling blood sugar after meals. They are taken with meals and adjusted according to the number of meals you eat. They can be taken alone or with other medications, and have few side effects.


The overall action of thiazolidinediones (TZDs) is to make cells more sensitive to insulin. Medications include rosiglitazone and pioglitazone. The first thiazolidinedione was recently withdrawn from the market after it was determined it causes liver toxicity. The other medications in this class are considered safe and effective.

It is often necessary for some Type 2 patients to take more than one type of medication usually separately.


If oral medications do not control your blood sugar levels, insulin may be used for diabetes treatment. A person with type 2 diabetes needs insulin injections if his or her pancreas has almost stopped producing insulin altogether. Type I diabetic patients use insulin as a treatment all the time.

* Insulin: Key to Health

If you have diabetes, you know that your goal is to keep your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) under control. And you know that you keep blood sugar under control by following your meal plan, and your blood-testing schedule, and by taking your insulin.

Following your meal plan means eating healthy foods on a regular schedule. Eating properly means your body is getting all the nutrients you need to grow and develop. Eating on schedule also helps you avoid swings in your blood sugar, especially low blood sugar, which can cause insulin reactions.

Testing your blood sugar helps you and your doctor know that your diabetes control plan is keeping you healthy.

And taking insulin helps you control your blood sugars. That's because insulin's specific job is to help your body use blood sugar (blood glucose). Glucose is the main chemical fuel our bodies use for energy. Our bodies make glucose from foods we eat, such as breads, cereals, potatoes, rice, and corn.

Insulin links up with special doors on cells throughout our bodies, like a key that fits into a lock and unlocks a door. Insulin opens the door to the cell and lets glucose inside. Then, the cell either uses the glucose for instant energy or stores it for later use.

But when you have type I diabetes, your body doesn't make insulin. So, you have to give yourself insulin injections. Injections is a fancy word for shots.

Why do you have to give yourself a shot? Why can't you take an insulin pill? The answer is simple: You have to give yourself a shot because the juices in your stomach would destroy insulin before it ever got a chance to work.

But it's important to remember that insulin shots aren't like all other shots. Ever notice how your arm doesn't hurt after your insulin shot ... but it sure did after your booster shot last year. That's because insulin is injected with a very short, thin needle. When you inject insulin, you're putting it right under your skin. This is called a subcutaneous (sub-Q-tane-E-os) shot. But that booster shot was put into your muscle. That's called an intramuscular (in-TRA-mus-Q-lar) shot.

When you have type I diabetes, you give yourself insulin shots. Once you've injected the insulin under your skin, it slowly works its way between body cells and slides into your bloodstream. Once in the blood, insulin helps glucose go from the blood into the cells. Inside the cell, glucose is used for energy.

So, insulin lowers blood glucose by opening cell doors to let glucose into the cell and out of the blood.


< Infomation mainly from ADA website and Gale Group >
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