Medication Diabetes medications are usually needed for people with type 2 diabetes. As time goes by healthy eating and exercise are not enough to keep blood glucose on target. Medication (tablets and / or insulin) are needed in addition to healthy eating and exercise. Together you and your doctor will choose medication most suitable for you.
Your needs will change over time. The longer you have diabetes the more medication you may need. Many people with type 2 diabetes need insulin as well as tablets.
To make sure diabetes medications are working effectively regular blood glucose testing is necessary. Testing can be done at home as well as at a blood test (A1c) at the doctor’s surgery.
There are six types of medication: metformin, sulphonylureas, acarbose, glitinides, glitazones and GPL-1 agents. Each tablet has a chemical name (generic) and one or more trade names. Metformin and sulphonylureas are the most frequently prescribed. The medications work in different ways and vary in dosage, strength and side effects.
Generic name Trade name Metformin
Glucohexal, Glucomet, Glucophage, Metformin, Metformin-BC
Sulphonylureas Alphaglucosidase inhibitors Glitinides Glitizones
Metformin helps the body use the available insulin more effectively and may help with weight loss in certain people. Sulphonylureas work to increase the amount of insulin from the pancreas. Acarbose slows the absorption of carbohydrate foods as they are being digested and can help reduce blood glucose levels after meals. Glitinides cause a short and brisk increase in insulin levels. Tablets are taken before meals and can also help control blood glucose levels after meals. Glitazones increase the body’s response to insulin. GLP-1 agents mimic (exenatide, an injection) or enhance (sitagliptin, a tablet) the action of a natural hormone (GLP-1) and help control blood glucose levels before and after meals.
1. Know the name and dose of your medications (write it down and keep this
2. Only take the type and number of medications prescribed by your doctor.
3. Take the medications at the prescribed time. It is important not to forget to
4. Make sure you have regular meals and take your medication with your
5. If medications are causing side effects notify your doctor. Discuss with your
6. Remember that taking other medication may react with your diabetes
medication. Consult the pharmacist or your doctor.
1. Diabetes medications are not a substitute for healthy eating and regular
2. If you are unwell and are unable to eat notify your doctor and ask for advice
3. If you forget to take your usual dose seek advice from your doctor.
4. Sometimes during illness or surgery it may be necessary to change these
5. If you need to go to hospital, you should tell the staff that you have
6. If you intend becoming pregnant you should discuss this with your doctor.
7. Store medications in their original tightly closed container away from heat
8. Keep medications out of reach of children.
9. If you have any problems or concerns about your medications, discuss
them with your doctor, diabetes educator or pharmacist.
Side effects of tablets What you should do Metformin can cause nausea and
settles, but if not or if it is severe notify
Sulphonylureas can cause
missed or inadequate, or with increased exercise. Weight gain can also occur.
discussed with your health professional.
Acarbose sometimes produces
sulphonylureas or glitinides use ‘glucose only products’ to treat hypoglycaemia.) Glitinides can sometimes cause Glitazones cause increased fluid or
fat under the skin and can affect some or ankle swelling, talk to your doctor. blood tests.
GPL-1 agents can cause nasal
vomiting and injection site reactions (exenatide).
Diabetes Outreach 8 Woodville Rd Woodville South SA 5011 Telephone: (08) 8222 6775 www.diabetesoutreach.org.au
Department of Health, Government of South Australia. All rights reserved.
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