What is Metformin? What is insulin? And what is Glipizide? What are all these diabetes medications and why do I need them?
Living with diabetes can be overwhelming, especially when your doctor is throwing around different medication options. However, with a little education and patience, you can tackle all of your treatment options with ease.
Let's dive into the types of medications used for type 2 diabetes and what they all mean.
There are several types of diabetes medications on the market and each of them does different things. Working with your doctor, the two of you will come up with the best medicine or combination of medicines to work for you.
Oral Diabetes Medications
Many people who are considered pre-diabetic will start off trying to get their sugars under control with diet and exercise. If that doesn’t do it, the usual next step is an oral drug like Metformin to lower the blood glucose levels.
Metformin or Glucophage are used to decrease the actual glucose produced by your liver. They also help your body to be able to absorb the glucose more quickly.
Many people start out with biguanides because it is well tolerated, however, the most frequent side effect is diarrhea. Which may be prevented when the medicine is taken with food, and it also tends to reduce once your body adjusts a bit to the general effects.
Sulfonylureas medications that help your pancreas to release more insulin into your body. These are taken orally usually once or twice a day before meals.
Meglitinides work with your body to help your pancreas release more insulin into your system. These particular medications are usually taken before each meal.
Relatively new to the diabetes medication market, DPP-4 inhibitors help to improve your A1C while not causing hypoglycemia. The DPP-4 inhibitors help a compound in the body called GLP-1 stay active longer.
The GLP-1 helps reduce the blood glucose in the body. This class of drugs doesn’t tend to cause weight gain, and they appear to have no (or a positive) effect on cholesterol.
Thiazolidinediones not only help the insulin to work better but they contribute to reducing the overall production of glucose, and so they are effective at helping reduce your A1C.
Some of the original thiazolidinediones caused liver issues and they may increase the risk of heart failure for some people. So if you are taking any of these, don’t be surprised if your doctor is monitoring both your liver and your heart.
Another relatively new class of medications, SGLT2 inhibitors work to eliminate excess glucose through urine.
When the glucose passes through your kidneys, it can either be reabsorbed into your body or can be eliminated. The SGLT2 inhibitor works to keep it from being reabsorbed.
One thing to be aware of with SGLT2 inhibitors, they are known for passing glucose through your urine and may put you at risk for urinary tract and yeast infections. Be sure to talk to your doctor about this if you have any of those issues.
Remember to talk to your doctor if you frequently have urinary tract infections or yeast infections.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors block starches in the intestines and slow the breakdown of some sugars. This, in turn, keeps your blood glucose levels from rising after a meal.
They are mostly taken with your meal but may have intestinal side effects like gas and diarrhea.
Bile Acid Sequestrants (BAS)
Bile acid sequestrants lower cholesterol and reduce glucose levels. These drugs bind with the bile acids and that helps reduce cholesterol and, in turn, lower the glucose.
Common side effects of Bile acid sequestrants are flatulence and constipation.It's important to talk to your doctor about any new or reoccurring side effects.