Learning about diabetes medicines is a wise thing to do. Diabetes medicines are ever-changing and since you are essentially the person who manages your disease it is important to know what medical options are available as well as the ins-and-outs of how these medications help you. In addition to reading this material is also a good idea to take time talking to your doctor and participating in a diabetes support group. People such as this are great sources of information on diabetes and available diabetes medicines. In addition, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other diabetes organizations have newsletters that you can receive via e-mail that will help you keep up-to-date on the latest diabetes information.

Type 1 diabetics must take insulin at the very least. This is because in type 1 diabetes the pancreas can no longer produce enough of this hormone. Since insulin cannot be taken orally, it must be injected by either a syringe, insulin pump, or by jet injection. Type 2 diabetics, on the other hand, usually take oral diabetes medicines. Sometimes, gestational and type 2 diabetics take insulin or other types of injected medications as well.


Types of Diabetes Medicines


Most oral diabetes medicines work by lowering the amount of sugar in your bloodstream before it can cause damage. Each type works differently, and they may be prescribed together in different combinations. According to WebMD.com, oral diabetes medicines are categorized as follows:

Sulfonylureas – These pills work by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin. Examples are Amaryl, GlynasePres Tab, and DiaBeta.

Biguanides– These pills work by improving the insulin’s ability to move sugar into cells. They also work by preventing the liver from releasing stored sugar. Metformin is an example of this type of diabetes medicine.

Thiazolidinediones– These pills work by improving insulin’s effectiveness and by lowering the amount of sugar released by the liver.  Actos and Avandia are examples of or medications found in this category. The FDA has restricted Avandia to new patients because of cardiovascular risks, but current users can continue using it if they choose to do so and understand the risk factors.

Alpa-Glucosidase Inhibitors – These pills work by blocking enzymes that help the body digest starches, and therefore slow the rise of blood sugar. Precose and Glyset are examples of these.

Meglitinides – These pills work by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin. They are activated by and only work when there is high levels of sugars in the blood. Prandin and Starlix are examples.

Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPP-IV) Inhibitors –These pills increase the secretion of insulin when blood sugar levels are high. They also signal the liver to stop producing excess sugar. Januvia, Onglyza, and Tradjenta are all examples of these.

Combination Therapy– There are several types of pills that combine two or more diabetes medicines into one tablet. Glucovance, for example, is a combination of glyburide and metformin. Metaglip and Avandamet are other examples.