Medication for Type 2 Diabetes


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There are a number of medications that can be used to help treat type 2 diabetes. These are usually reserved for people whose diabetes is still not adequately controlled by diet and exercise alone. The most common drug used is metformin (Glucophage). This drug helps to control the level of sugar within your blood, whilst at the same time also helping to protect your heart. It has been shown in many trials to help improve survival times of type 2 diabetics.

There are many other drugs that can be used to help control your blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes, these include:

  • Metformin – This increases your sensitivity to insulin, helping you body to store glucose from your blood more effectively. It also helps to lower blood pressure and choloesterol levels. This is the drug of choice for many type 2 diabetic patients.
  • Sulfonylurea – These drugs help to stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas. This helps to lower your blood glucose. Examples include glimepiride.
  • Meglitinides – Just like sulfonylurea drugs, these aim to help increase insulin release. They are newer than the sulfonylureas and generally better.
  • Thiazolidinediones – e.g. rosiglitazone are used to help increase insulin sensitivity. However they can lead to liver and heart problems.
  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors – these slow the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine. By doing so they help to control the level of glucose within your blood.

The most effective way to use these drugs is in combination. This ensures the best results, for example metformin and rosiglitazone are commonly used together as a first line treatment.

There are a number of new drugs available that are injectable. These are used alongside drugs such as metformin to help increase insulin sensitivity, they include:

  • Exenatide – This is an incretin memetic, which is used to help increase insulin sensitivity whilst lowering blood pressure. It is very effective when used alongside metformin.

Some of the above drugs have side effects such as stomach problems and metallic tastes, each of the different side effects can be found listed on the information leaflets inside the drug packets.


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