Managing your type 2 diabetes diagnosis without the proper knowledge and support can be stressful. This short guide will explore the different types of medications available.
Following your initial diagnosis, a registered health professional may recommend a combination of diet and lifestyle changes to treat or potentially reverse the diagnosis. Aside from lifestyle factors, type 2 diabetes medication may also be offered. Insulin injections are the most widely used treatment, however in this guide we will be focusing on other alternative medications.
Most treatments are in tablet form and work by either lowering insulin resistance or increasing the effectiveness and uptake of insulin. The dosage required will depend on the type of medication and thus it is always important to speak to a registered health professional. The following are examples of type 2 diabetes medication available.
- Metformin: works by lowering insulin resistance.
- Sulphonylureas: covers several tablets including diamicron, amaryl and tolbutamide & works by increasing effectiveness of insulin.
- Acarbose: works by slowing down the rise of blood glucose levels after consuming a meal.
- Repaglinides: they are similar to sulphonylureas but work much faster and for a shorter period.
- Pioglitazones: work by lowering insulin resistance and increasing the sensitivity/effectiveness of insulin.
- Incretin Mimetics: they are also known as GLP-1 analogues and those available in the UK are known by the trade names: Byetta, Bydureon, Victoza, Lyxumia, Trulicity, Ozempic and Rybelsus. They work by mimicking the hormone incretin which is essential in insulin production.
- DPP-4 Inhibitors (gliptins) help maintain blood glucose levels and improve insulin production. Gliptins available in the UK include linagliptin, saxagliptin and sitagliptin.
- SGLT2 Inhibitors: maintains blood glucose levels by diverting excess glucose to the kidneys to be excreted as urine. Examples of these are canaglifloxin and empaglafoxin.
- Statins: help lower amounts of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, lowers the risk of heart disease.
There are general side effects associated with diabetes medication such as weight gain/loss, diarrhoea, and bloating, feeling sick and hypoglycaemia.
Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for extremely low blood sugar levels, and this can be dangerous if not treated. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia are heart palpitations, tingling sensations, blurred vision, and sweating. Side effects experienced will vary depending on the individuals as well as the type of medication. It is best to raise any concerns with a registered health professional to receive the correct support.
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Article written by Maleeha Ali (Student, University of Leeds) and edited by Debra Williams (Registered Dietitian)