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Some people with type 2 diabetes need to regularly inject themselves with insulin to control their blood sugar levels. Many others can manage the condition with lifestyle and dietary changes alone or in combination with oral or other injectable medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes or around 1 in 10 people. Of these, 90–95 percent has type 2 diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes are resistant to insulin, which is the hormone that causes sugar to move from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. Insulin causes a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high. In this article, we look at when a person with type 2 diabetes requires insulin, and which other medications can manage the condition. We also describe useful lifestyle and dietary tips. In a person with type 1 diabetes, the body has stopped producing insulin. The person needs to either use an insulin pump or inject the hormone several times a day.
Metformin helps control blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar that the liver produces and improving how the body uses the sugar.
For people with type 2 diabetes, doctors generally recommend other medications first. They consider several factors when recommending courses of treatment, including the person’s: blood sugar levels, previous treatment history, weight, age, medical history, and other ongoing health issues. Most individuals with mild-to-moderate type 2 diabetes can manage the condition with oral medications or non-insulin injectable drugs, as well as lifestyle and dietary changes.
Some people can even manage the condition with lifestyle changes alone. These can include weight management, dietary changes, and regular exercise. However, a doctor may prescribe insulin for people with severe symptoms of type 2 diabetes or certain accompanying medical conditions. Typically, the doctor will recommend insulin when a combination of non-insulin drugs is no longer sufficient to control blood sugar levels.
Read more: How can one lower insulin levels?
A wide variety of non-insulin medications are available for people with type 2 diabetes, and new drugs are emerging every year. Some of the most common oral treatment options include: For people with type 2 diabetes, doctors usually prescribe metformin (Glucophage) first. Metformin helps control blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar that the liver produces and improving how the body uses the sugar.
Metformin is available as Tablets: A person usually takes these two or three times a day with meals. Extended-release tablets: These are long-lasting, and a person usually takes one pill with their evening meal. A liquid: A person typically takes this once or twice a day with meals. Initially, a doctor usually recommends a low dosage of metformin. Depending on how the individual’s blood sugar levels respond to the medication, the doctor may gradually increase the dosage.
There are two main types of insulin secretagogues: those in the sulfonylurea class, such as glimepiride, glipizide, glyburide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, and tolazamide those in the meglitinide class, such as repaglinide and nateglinide.
In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe a combination of metformin and other diabetes medications, which can include insulin. When taking metformin, or any other medication, it is important to carefully follow the doctor or pharmacist’s instructions. Although it is generally safe to drink alcohol in moderation with metformin, too much can increase the risk of serious side effects, such as hypoglycemia and lactic acidosis, which is a potentially life-threating condition.
When a person’s blood sugar levels become too low, can cause symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, tiredness, hunger, nervousness Severe hypoglycemia is dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. Common side effects of metformin include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain SGLT2 inhibitors are a relatively new group of oral medications for type 2 diabetes. They work by increasing the amount of sugar that the kidneys absorb from the bloodstream and pass out through the urine. This helps to lower a person’s blood sugar levels.
Read more: Can you have hypoglycemia without diabetes?
Doctors usually prescribe SGLT2 inhibitors in combination with metformin, when metformin alone cannot sufficiently lower blood sugar levels. However, a doctor may prescribe an SGLT2 inhibitor alone, especially if a person cannot take metformin. A person typically takes an SGLT2 inhibitor once a day. Available drugs in this group include: canagliflozin (Invokana), dapagliflozin (Forxiga), empagliflozin (Jardiance)
Because of their effect on the kidneys, SGLT2 inhibitors increase a person’s risk of contracting genital and urinary tract infections. Doctors do not recommend these drugs for people with kidney diseases. Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors DPP-4 inhibitors, or gliptins, are a new class of oral drug for type 2 diabetes. They increase the production of insulin in the body and decrease the amount of sugar that the liver releases into the bloodstream.
Doctors usually only prescribe TZDs after other first-line treatments, such as metformin, have been unsuccessful on their own. TZDs are oral tablets, and a person usually takes them once or twice a day, with or without food.
These effects help to lower a person’s blood sugar levels. Doctors usually prescribe DPP-4 inhibitors in combination with metformin, when metformin alone cannot lower blood sugar levels sufficiently. Under certain circumstances, a doctor may prescribe a DPP-4 inhibitor alone as a first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. AGIs work by slowing digestion and reducing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. A person usually takes an AGI three times a day, with the first bite of each meal. Available AGIs include acarbose (Glucobay, Precose) and miglitol (Glyset).
Doctors usually prescribe them in combination with other diabetes medications, such as metformin. Sides’ effects of AGIs can include diarrhea, stomach upset, and gas. These oral medications cause the pancreas to produce more insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. There are two main types of insulin secretagogues: those in the sulfonylurea class, such as glimepiride, glipizide, glyburide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, and tolazamide those in the meglitinide class, such as repaglinide and nateglinide. A person usually takes sulfonylureas once or twice a day and meglitinides two to four times a day with meals.
Doctors usually prescribe insulin secretagogues in combination with other diabetes medications, such as metformin. These drugs may increase a person’s risk of hypoglycemia and cause slight weight gain. TZDs are sometimes called glitazones. They increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which allows the hormone to regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. Doctors usually only prescribe TZDs after other first-line treatments, such as metformin, have been unsuccessful on their own. TZDs are oral tablets, and a person usually takes them once or twice a day, with or without food. It is important to take these medications at the same times each day.