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, 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 The first thiazolidinedione was recently withdrawn from the market after it was determined it causes liver toxicity.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.