Type 2 Diabetes Medications – Medications Used for Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes medications can play a key role in the management of your blood sugar. "If diet and exercise do not help maintain normal or near-normal blood glucose levels, your doctor may prescribe medication. Since these drugs help lower your blood sugar levels in different ways, your doctor may have you take more than one" (1).

Type 2 diabetes medications come in different classes, some of the medications are taken orally (by mouth) while others are injected.

The different classes of type 2 diabetes medications work in different ways within the body to help lower your blood sugar level. Below is a list of 3 different ways the drugs for type 2 diabetes work along with classes and examples of those medications:

Type 2 diabetes medications that increase insulin production in your body include:

  • Dipeptidly-peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. These drugs are taken orally and examples are Saxagliptin (Onglyza) and Sitagliptin (Januvia).
  • Advantage – This drug does not cause weight gain
  • Disadvantage – This drug may lead to upper respiratory tract infections, sore throat and headaches; Sitagliptin may be associated with inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists. These drugs are administered by injection and an example is Exenatide (Byetta).
  • Advantage – This drug may promote weight loss
  • Disadvantage – This drug may cause nausea, headaches and dizziness; rarer kidney problems may also result.
  • Meglitinides. These drugs are taken orally and examples are Repaglinide (Prandin) and Nateglinide (Starlix).
  • Advantage – This drug works quickly.
  • Disadvantage – This drug may cause low blood sugar and promote weight gain.
  • Sulfonylureas. These drugs are taken orally and examples are Glipizide (Glucotrol), Glimepiride (Amaryl), and Glyburide (DiaBeta or Glynase).
  • Advantage – This drug works quickly and can be used alone or combined with other diabetes medications
  • Disadvantage – This drug may cause low blood sugar and nausea and it may promote weight gain.

Type 2 diabetes medications that improve the effectiveness of insulin in your body include:

  • Metformin. These drugs are taken orally and examples are (Fortamet, Glucophage, and others).
  • Advantage – This drug does not promote weight gain and may decrease LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Disadvantage – This drug may cause nausea and diarrhea; rarer harmful buildup of lactic acid may occur
  • Thiazolidinediones. These drugs are taken orally and examples are Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and Pioglitazone (Actos).
  • Advantage – This drug may slightly increase HDL cholesterol
  • Disadvantage – This drug may cause swelling and weight gain that could complicate heart failure; may increase LDL cholesterol; may increase risk of heart attack; rarer liver problems may occur.

Type ii diabetes medications that affect food absorption in your body include:

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. These drugs are taken orally and examples are Acarbose (Precose) and Miglitol (Glyset).
  • Advantage – This drug does not promote weight gain.
  • Disadvantage – This drug may cause nausea and diarrhea.

Your doctor will help you select the type 2 diabetes medications that are right for your individual needs.

(1) Medline Plus (2010). Type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000313.htm

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