New Diabetes Medications List

Reviewed on 8/11/2022

What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be managed by diligently controlling blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be managed by diligently controlling blood sugar levels.

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body either does not produce sufficient insulin or does not use insulin properly causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise (hyperglycemia). Glucose is the body's main source of energy, and the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps convert the glucose from the food you eat into energy your body uses.

There are 3 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes (previously called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes) is a condition in which little to no insulin is produced by the pancreas.
    • It is a chronic autoimmune condition.
    • Patients with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for the rest of their lives.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly causing blood sugar levels to rise.
    • It is the most common form of diabetes.
    • Some people with type 2 diabetes will need insulin to help control their diabetes.
    • Some people with type 2 diabetes can use other medicines to manage the condition.
  • Gestational diabetes is a condition that disrupts the way the body uses sugar (glucose) during pregnancy.
    • It occurs because pregnancy increases the body's need for insulin, but the body cannot always make enough.
    • Some women with gestational diabetes will need to use insulin to control blood sugar. Some women will need metformin.
    • After delivery, gestational diabetes usually goes away and a woman's blood sugar levels will return to normal.

Which Types of Medications Treat Diabetes?

New types of medications used to treat diabetes include:

  • Insulin
    • People who have type 1 diabetes need to take insulin shots or wear an insulin pump every day to manage blood sugar levels
    • About 15% of women with gestational diabetes will require insulin
    • Fast-acting insulin (rapid-acting insulin)
    • Short-acting insulin (also called regular insulin)
      • Covers meals eaten within 30-60 minutes after injection
    • Intermediate-acting insulin (medium-acting insulin)
      • Covers insulin needs for half the day or overnight
      • Often used in combination with rapid or short-acting insulin
    • Long-acting insulin
    • Ultra-long-acting insulin
      • Can cover insulin needs beyond 24 hours
      • Often combined with rapid or short-acting insulin when needed
    • Premixed mixture of fast-acting and medium-acting (NPH) insulin
      • Humalog Mix 75/25
      • Humalog Mix 50/50
      • NovoLog 70/30
    • Premixed mixture of short-acting (regular) and medium-acting (NPH) insulin
      • Humulin 70/30
      • Novolin 70/30
      • Humulin 50/50
    • Combination degludec and aspart

Types of Medications For Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Medications used to treat type 1 diabetes include:

  • Amylin analog helps to slow stomach emptying, which helps lower blood sugar
    • This medication is injected under the skin. It should not be used in place of insulins.

Medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes include:

What Are Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger, even though people are eating
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Sores/cuts/bruises that do not heal
  • Frequent infections
  • Darkened skin, often in the armpits and neck
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the feet or hands (more common in type 2)
  • Unexplained weight loss (more common in type 1)

What Causes Diabetes and What Are Risk Factors?

Type 1 diabetes is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the body attacks itself and destroys beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin.

Risk factors for developing type 1 diabetes include:

Type 1 diabetes is not caused by diet or lifestyle factors.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors, including:

  • Genetics
    • Family history
    • Tends to occur more in certain ethnic groups: African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
  • Lifestyle factors

Factors that can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:

It is unknown what causes gestational diabetes and it can be difficult to predict which women will develop the condition when they are pregnant.

Risk factors for developing gestational diabetes include:

  • Prior gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Age older than 25
  • Ethnicity: Hispanic-American, African-American, Native American, South or East Asian, or Pacific Islander

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed with the following tests:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test
  • A1C test
  • Glucose challenge test
  • Random plasma glucose (RPG) test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

What Lifestyle Changes Can Be Made to Help Manage Diabetes?

Diabetes is treated with lifestyle modifications and medications as listed above when needed.

Lifestyle changes to manage diabetes include:

  • Manage A1C (average blood glucose level over the past 3 months)
  • Check blood glucose levels daily
  • Keep blood pressure in check
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
  • Don't smoke
  • Follow a diabetes meal plan as recommended by your doctor or nutritionist
    • Eat a plant-based/vegan/vegetarian diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. If you chose to eat meat and dairy, choose lean poultry and fish, and low-fat dairy.
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Chose foods that are low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar, and low-salt
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Manage stress/practice relaxation techniques
  • Take prescribed diabetes medications

If lifestyle changes and medications are insufficient, other treatments for diabetes may include:

  • Weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery) for certain patients who are obese
  • Artificial pancreas

NIDDK. Diabetes.

FDA. Diabetes Medication.

CDC. Type 1 Diabetes.

UpToDate. Patient education: Gestational diabetes (Beyond the Basics). Revised Insulin Overview.

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