Diabetes Medications

Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different consequences for the people affected by them, they both can require treatment with medication, depending on the severity. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes rely on medication to keep their blood sugar levels normal. The medications available to a patient depend on the type of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes medications
Insulin—the most common type of medication used in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Insulin cannot be taken orally and must be injected. There are various types of insulin depending on the severity of your condition. Options include short-acting insulins like regular insulin (Humulin, Novolin), rapid-acting insulins like insulin apart (NovoLog, FlexPen), long-acting insulin like insulin deter (Levemir) and insulin degludec (Tresiba), and combination insulins.

High blood pressure medications—Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) may be prescribed to keep your kidneys functional.

Aspirin—Recommended daily to protect your heart.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs—People with diabetes are at higher risk for heart disease. Medication may be prescribed to help keep your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol below 100 mg/dL and your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol over 50 mg/dL in women and 40 mg/dL in men.

Type 2 diabetes medications
People with type 2 diabetes who cannot keep their target blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone may need insulin therapy or diabetes medications. Sometimes drugs may be combined to help control blood sugar.

Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza)—Usually the first medication prescribed to control type 2 diabetes. It improves the sensitivity of body tissues to insulin so that the body is able to use insulin more effectively. It also lowers glucose production in the liver. Side effects may include nausea and diarrhea.

Sulfonylureas (glyburide, glipizide, glimepiride)—Help your body secrete more insulin. Side effects can include low blood sugar and weight gain.

Meglitinides (repaglinide, nateglinide)—Stimulate the pancreas to secrete more insulin. Can cause low blood sugar and cause weight gain.

Thiazolidinediones (Rosiglitazone, pioglitazone)—Make the body’s tissues more sensitive to insulin. May cause weight gain, increased risk of heart failure and fractures.

DPP-4 Inhibitors (sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin)—Help reduce blood sugar levels without causing weight gain.

GLP-1 receptor agonists (exenatide, liraglutide)—Help slow digestion and lower blood sugar levels and may cause weight loss. Usually paired with another medication in treatment. Side effects may include nausea and an increased risk of pancreatitis.

SGLT2 Inhibitor (canagliflozin, dapagliflozin)—The newest diabetes drugs on the market. These prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into the blood and excrete sugar in urine instead. Side effects may include yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
Insulin therapy—People with type 2 diabetes sometimes need insulin therapy as well. Usually those with type 2 diabetes use a long-acting shot of insulin at night to treat their condition. Insulin is injected using a needle or an insulin pen injector. Many types of insulin may be used but some options include insulin glulisine, insulin lispro, insulin aspart, insulin glargine.


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