Understand Your Diabetes Medications

How your prescriptions keep you well

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Healthy lifestyle changes are the first step to manage diabetes. Your doctor may also prescribe medications. Here’s what you should know.

Metformin is often prescribed for type 2 diabetes. This “diabetes pill” controls the amount of glucose in your blood. It lowers the amount of glucose you absorb from food and the amount your liver makes. It also makes your body more sensitive to insulin.

If your A1C test results are not on target, your doctor may prescribe a combination of metformin and other diabetes drugs, such as chlorpropamide. It stimulates the body to release more insulin.

Your doctor may also prescribe insulin as an injection or from a pump. Rapid-acting insulin takes effect in about 15 minutes. Others are more long-acting.

Some people with diabetes who are at risk for heart disease take aspirin regularly. This treatment depends on a variety of factors, including blood glucose control, weight, and fitness level.

Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin. People with type 1 diabetes usually take a combination of different kinds of insulin. Some also take a drug called an amylinomimetic, such as pramlintide, to control blood sugar after meals.

Get the Most Out of Your Medicine
Medications help control diabetes. Take your medications as prescribed even on days when you are feeling well. Follow these tips:

  • Let your doctor and pharmacist know about other medications you take.

  • If you miss a dose of your medication, ask your doctor or nurse what you should do.

  • Some diabetes medications do not mix with alcohol. Ask your pharmacist.

  • Citrus fruit sometimes interferes with medication. Ask about foods to avoid.

  • Remember that eating well and exercising can help reduce the need for medication.