November 26, 2015
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Diabetes Treatment (cont.)

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Medications for type 2 diabetes

WARNING: All the information below applies to patients who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. At present the only recommended way of controlling diabetes in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding is by diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. You should speak with your health-care professional if you are taking these medications, are considering becoming pregnant, or if you have become pregnant while taking these medications.

Medications for type 2 diabetes are designed to:

  1. increase insulin output by the pancreas,
  2. decrease the amount of glucose released from the liver,
  3. increase the sensitivity (response) of cells to insulin,
  4. decrease the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine, and
  5. slow emptying of the stomach, thereby delaying nutrient digestion and absorption in the small intestine.

When selecting therapy for type 2 diabetes, consideration should be given to:

  1. the magnitude of change in blood sugar control by each medication;
  2. other co-existing medical conditions (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.);
  3. harmful or abnormal results (adverse effects) of the therapy;
  4. contraindications to therapy (treatments or medications that may potentially harmful)
  5. issues that may affect the patient adhering to taking medications - compliance - like timing of medication, frequency of dosing, etc.); and
  6. cost to the patient and the healthcare system.

A preferred drug can provide more than one benefit (for example, lower blood sugar and control cholesterol). Cost of drug therapy is relatively small compared to costs of managing chronic complications associated with poorly controlled diabetes.

Varying combinations of medications can control diabetes. Newer medications allow tailoring of treatment options to meet individual needs. Not every patient with type 2 diabetes will benefit from every drug, and not every drug is suitable for each patient. Patients with type 2 diabetes should work closely with their health-care professionals to achieve an approach that provides the greatest benefits while minimizing risks and adverse events.

People with diabetes must remember the importance of diet and exercise. Control of diabetes begins with a healthy lifestyle, regardless of prescribed medications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2015


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