If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and lifestyle changes are not enough to control your blood sugar levels, you will likely be placed on oral medications or injectables. While people assume that insulin is the only type of medication available for diabetes, there are a variety of other medications your doctor can prescribe. Here is a look at the different types of medication that are medicines used to treat diabetes.
A wide variety of oral medication is available for people with type 2 diabetes. New drugs keep emerging every year. However, here is a look at the standard oral treatment options.
Most doctors prescribe metformin or Glucophage when a patient is first diagnosed with diabetes. Metformin helps patients reduce their blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar the liver produces. It also helps with how the body utilizes blood sugar.
Metformin is available in the form of:
- Tablets: a patient must take these at least two to three times a day after meals.
- Liquid: A patient should take these once or twice a day after meals
- Extended-release tablets: These pills are designed to last long, and patients usually take one pill in the evening after a meal.
Doctors prescribe metformin in low doses in the beginning. The doctor will gradually increase the dose depending on the patient’s blood sugar levels and how they respond to medication. In severe cases, the doctor might prescribe metformin with other medication, including insulin.
Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) Inhibitors
SGLT2 inhibitors increase the blood sugar kidneys absorb from the blood and pass it as urine. They help lower a patient’s blood sugar levels. Physicians will prescribe SGLT2 inhibitors with metformin to sufficiently lower blood glucose levels. It may also be prescribed alone if a patent cannot take metformin.
Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) Inhibitors
DPP-4 inhibitors, also known as gliptins, are a new class of drugs for diabetes. They increase insulin production in the body and reduce the amount of sugar that the body releases in the body hence reducing a person’s blood sugar levels.
Physicians prescribe DPP-4 inhibitors with metformin when metformin cannot sufficiently lower blood sugar levels. It is prescribed as the first-line treatment for patients recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors (AGIs)
AGIs help slow digestion by reducing the sugar absorbed in the blood. Typically, patients are advised to take AGI three times a day with the first bite of every meal. AGIs have acarbose and miglitol and are often prescribed with other oral medications such as metformin.
There are other medications for diabetes available in injectable form. They include:
GLP-1 agonists are also called incretin mimetics. They work by increasing the amount of insulin produced in the body by helping reduce the amount of sugar that the liver releases in the blood. Exercise and dietary changes help reduce appetite and promote weight loss.
A GLP-1 agonist is the best next choice if a patient cannot use metformin. The drug is self-injectable and is available in various types.
Also referred to as amylin agonists, amylin analogs slow down digestion and reduce the amount of sugar the liver releases in the bloodstream. They help prevent blood sugar levels from spiking after having meals.
They can help a patient feel fuller for longer, thus contributing to weight loss. Patients need to inject amylin analogs before meals. It is important to note that some patients will experience vomiting and nausea when they begin using this drug, but the side effect improves after some time.
Using non-insulin medication and dietary and lifestyle changes is recommended. It is vital to maintain a moderate weight and continue to monitor your blood sugar levels as recommended by your doctor.