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Medicines

The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. The first step is to have a healthy diet and to exercise. This may mean youíll need to change your diet and exercise habits. Youíll also have to watch your weight, or even lose weight, to keep your blood sugar level as normal as possible. Your doctor will talk to you about the kinds of food you should eat and how much exercise youíll need every week.

Sometimes diet and exercise alone canít keep your blood sugar levels normal. Then your doctor will talk to you about other treatments, such as medicine or insulin shots.

Many people with diabetes find it fairly easy to keep track of their own blood sugar level at home. Your doctor can use the results to see how your treatment is working.

Are there medicines I can take?

Several kinds of medicine can help you control your blood sugar level. Some medicines are pills that you take by mouth (orally). Oral medicine doesnít work for everyone, though. Some people need to take insulin. If you need insulin, youíll have to give yourself a shot. Most people with type 2 diabetes start with an oral medicine. Your doctor will tell you which kind of medicine you should take and why.

What medicines could my doctor prescribe?

Six kinds of diabetes medicine are available in pill form: sulfonylureas, metformin, thiazolidinediones, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, repaglinide and nateglinide. Each medicine has good points and bad points. Your doctor will decide which medicine is right for you.

Sulfonylureas

Sulfonylureas (some brand names: (Amaryl, DiaBeta, Diabinese, Dymelor, Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL, Glynase, Micronase, Orinase, Tolinase)) are the most commonly prescribed diabetes medicines. They are inexpensive and have few side effects. These medicines help your body make insulin. They can be taken alone or with metformin, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, pioglitazone or insulin. If youíre allergic to sulfa, you canít take a sulfonylurea.

Biguanides

Metformin (brand name: Glucophage) may be prescribed for people with diabetes who are overweight, because it may help with weight problems. It helps the body use insulin better. Metformin can cause problems like nausea or diarrhea in some people. It can be taken with a sulfonylurea.

Thiazolidinediones

This class of medicines includes rosiglitazone (brand name: Avandia) and pioglitazone (brand name: Actos). An older medicine, troglitazone (brand name: Rezulin) is no longer being made because of the risk of liver problems. Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone appear less likely to cause liver problems, but people taking them need periodic liver tests. These medicines help your body respond better to insulin. Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone can be used alone or in combination with other diabetes medicines.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (brand names: Precose, Glyset) work in your stomach and bowels to slow down the absorption of sugar. If another medicine doesnít control your blood sugar, you might use this kind. This medicine can cause stomach or bowel problems, so it may not be a good choice if you have a history of stomach or bowel trouble. It can be taken alone or with a sulfonylurea.

Meglitinides

Repaglinide (brand name: Prandin) is taken with meals to control your blood sugar. Your doctor can tell you how to adjust the dose according to the number of meals you eat. Repaglinide can be taken alone or with metformin. Nateglinide (brand name: Starlix) is taken with meals to keep your blood sugar level from getting too high after you eat. Nateglinide can be taken alone or with metformin.

Your doctor may prescribe a combination of 2 or even 3 types of medicine to help you control your blood sugar levels. Some combinations are available together in one pill. Some of these include a combination of a thiazolidinedione and a biguanide (Avandamet and ACTOplus Met) or a sulfonylurea and a biguanide (Glucovance and Metaglip).


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