Types Of Antidiabetic Drugs
Medications for type 2 diabetes include:
Drugs known as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors were used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in the past, but they are rarely used for this purpose nowadays. They slow down the uptake of glucose in the bowel. The most commonly used drug in this group is called acarbose. It causes a lot of side effects, particularly flatulence and diarrhea. Compared to the other options, it doesnt lower blood sugar levels as much.
When Is Medication Considered
Whether or not blood-sugar-lowering medication is suitable will depend on things like the age at which type 2 diabetes starts. Many older people with type 2 diabetes have slightly higher blood sugar levels than normal and they dont cause any problems. When type 2 diabetes develops in older age, it rarely leads to nerve and blood vessel damage. Other conditions like high blood pressure are often more of a problem then.
If youre already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around the age of 40 or 50, you will probably live with the condition for quite a long time. Then even slightly too high blood sugar levels can lead to other problems over a long period of time. So it’s very important for younger people who have type 2 diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels down.
The aim of the treatment is to prevent the diabetes from leading to other health problems. Constantly high blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves. This can result in medical problems affecting the kidneys, feet and retina . The risk of stroke or heart attack may also increase. Blood-sugar-lowering drugs are used with the aim of preventing or delaying these health problems as much as possible.
What Other Medications Should Someone With Diabetes Take
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How Does Diabetes Lead To Amputation
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to poor blood flow . Without oxygen and nutrients , you are more prone to the development of cuts and sores that can lead to infections that cant fully heal. Areas of your body that are farthest away from your heart are more likely to experience the effects of poor blood flow. So areas of your body like your toes, feet, legs and fingers are more likely to be amputated if infection develops and healing is poor.
What Should I Expect If I Have Been Diagnosed With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, the most important thing you can do is keep your blood glucose level within the target range recommended by your healthcare provider. In general, these targets are:
- Before a meal: between 80 and 130 mg/dL.
- About two hours after the start of a meal: less than 180 mg/dL.
You will need to closely follow a treatment plan, which will likely include following a customized diet plan, exercising 30 minutes five times a week, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Always take your medications and insulin as instructed by your provider.
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How Nutrition Therapy Can Treat Type 2 Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you should have an individualized meal plan focused on management of not only blood sugar but also blood cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as any other medical conditions.
Theres no one-size-fits-all eating plan for people with diabetes, so it is often helpful to work with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator to design a diabetes meal plan that meets your diabetes goals and accommodates your food likes and dislikes, daily schedule, and access to food.
She notes that working with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan to fit your lifestyle can be helpful, since the best diet is the one that a person can stick with for the long haul. To that end, Dungan notes that keeping a food log can help you understand how many calories, carbs, and nutrients youre consuming.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
Keeping your blood sugar well controlled is key to reducing your risk of long-term complications such as heart, kidney or eye problems.
Regardless of whether you need medication or which medication you are taking, diet and lifestyle play a key part in preventing long-term complications. You can find out more about how you can improve your diabetes control with diet from our separate leaflet called Type 2 Diabetes Diet.
The initial stages in type 2 diabetes treatment are usually to follow a healthy diet, lose weight if you are overweight, and do regular physical activity. If lifestyle advice does not control your blood glucose levels then medicines are used to help lower these levels. One medicine is used first but two or even three medicines may be needed.
In addition to controlling your blood glucose, keeping raised blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors under control are also important. You can read more about controlling other risk factors in our separate leaflet called Type 2 Diabetes.
The rest of this leaflet is about medications to control blood glucose.
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Nateglinide And Repaglinide As Type 2 Diabetes Treatments
Nateglinide and repaglinide have a similar action to sulfonylureas. However, they are not commonly used. After taking a dose they quickly boost the insulin level but the effect of each dose does not last very long. Each dose is taken shortly before main meals . One of these medicines may be an option if you have meals at irregular times.
Possible problems with nateglinide and repaglinideAs with sulfonylureas, possible side-effects include weight gain and hypoglycaemia. See the leaflet that comes in the medicine packet for full details of cautions and possible side-effects.
When Should I Check My Blood Glucose At Home
This depends on your individual situation. Some people with diabetes need to check their blood glucose several times a day, while others only need to check once daily or even less often.
If youre checking blood glucose at home, certain times for checking provide the most useful information. Checking blood glucose right before breakfast is a useful day-to-day measure of how well your diabetes is being controlled.
People taking certain types of insulin might need to check blood glucose before every meal. Another good time to check is 1 to 2 hours after a meal. That number tells you how your body is responding to and processing the rise in blood glucose that occurs after eating. Checking blood glucose at bedtime is also common.
Lastly, if you feel sick, its a good idea to check your blood glucose. Sometimes symptoms can be caused by very low or high glucose levels. However, it can also work in the other direction. An underlying illness can cause your blood glucose to shoot up.
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Medications For Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body makes insulin but no longer uses it well.
Your body cant make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal. The goal of treatment for you is to help your body use your insulin better or to get rid of extra sugar in your blood.
Most medications for type 2 diabetes are oral drugs. However, a few come as injections. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also need to take insulin.
Taking Ozempic With Other Drugs
Your doctor may prescribe Ozempic with other medications to help manage your blood sugar levels or lower your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Some examples of other diabetes medications that may be prescribed with Ozempic include:
If youd like to know more about taking other drugs with Ozempic, talk with your doctor.
Note: For information about things that can interact with Ozempic, such as other drugs or foods, see the What should be considered before taking Ozempic? section below.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Ozempic and your treatment plan. Its important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions like:
- How will Ozempic affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable. If you dont understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you. If youre new to self-injections, ask your doctor to explain the process to you slowly so that you can follow the steps. Until you get the hang of it, dont be shy about asking your doctor to show you the process again.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, dont be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
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Common Drugs Used To Treat Type 2 Diabetes
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How Does Ozempic Work
Ozempic works in several ways to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The drug also lowers heart-related risks in people with both diabetes and heart disease.
The drug does this by:
- Increasing the amount of insulin your body makes after a meal so that your blood sugar levels wont get too high. Insulin is a hormone that lowers your blood sugar levels.
- Slowing the movement of food through your stomach to prevent a big jump in your blood sugar levels.
- Lowering the amount of sugar released into your bloodstream.
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How To Get Free Prescriptions For Diabetes Medicine
If you take diabetes medicine, you’re entitled to free prescriptions for all your medicines.
To claim your free prescriptions, you’ll need to apply for an exemption certificate. This is known as a PF57 form. To do this:
- fill in a form at your GP surgery
- you should get the certificate in the post about a week later â it’ll last for 5 years
- take it to your pharmacy with your prescriptions
Save your receipts if you have to pay for diabetes medicine before you receive your exemption certificate. You can claim the money back if you include the receipts along with your completed PF57 form.
Why Building A Diabetes Care Team Is Critical For Effective Treatment
Your first resource for managing your type 2 diabetes should be your primary care provider. Dungan notes that most patients with type 2 diabetes can rely on their primary care provider alone for treatment. But its important for people with type 2 diabetes to also stay up-to-date on diet and treatment recommendations by coordinating with a certified diabetes care and education specialist , a dietitian, a nurse, or a pharmacist, Dungan says. That education should occur at the time of diagnosis and periodically over time, such as after the start of insulin therapy, Dungan explains.
As for other healthcare professionals, Dungan notes that many diabetes clinics have dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, and mental health specialists on staff, all of whom can contribute to your diabetes management program.
Each patients needs will differ slightly, Dungan says. For instance, if you cant control your blood sugar with standard treatments or if you have frequent or severe hypoglycemia, you should consider seeing an endocrinologist, she says. If you develop complications, like heart disease, kidney disease, or foot ulcers, you may need to see specialists who can help with those conditions.
Each year, everyone with diabetes should see an eye care professional who has experience treating patients with diabetes, Dungan says.
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Newer Diabetes Medications: Weighing Benefits And Risks
Lately, newer treatment options for type 2 diabetes glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors have been heavily advertised. These newer drug classes lower blood sugar and also have cardiovascular and kidney benefits.
GLP-1 receptor agonists are drugs that lower blood sugar after eating by helping your bodys insulin work more efficiently. All drugs in this group except one are self-injected under the skin, either daily or weekly. Several of them, such as liraglutide , semaglutide , and dulaglutide , have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in people who are at high risk for it, or who have pre-existing heart disease. They also promote weight loss. Some people who take GLP-1 receptor agonists may have side effects such as nausea and vomiting, and in very rare cases pancreatitis.
While these diabetes medications certainly have more to offer than just improvements in blood sugar, they remain costly and inaccessible to many individuals. This is why it is essential to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about what is most important to you and what aligns with your goals and preferences. Management of a complex disease like diabetes takes an entire team, with you being the key team member.
About the Author
Samar Hafida, MD, Contributor
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Can’t I Just Take Meds
While some people believe that there is a healthy diabetes cure in the form of medication , this is a dangerous assumption.
If you have type 2 diabetes for a long enough time, then your pancreas can get ‘worn down’. It will no longer secrete enough insulin, and you’ll have to take injected insulin for the rest of your life.
Insulin and medication are not a cure — they’re just another way of managing diabetes symptoms. The only way to reverse diabetes is by reversing insulin resistance.