common diabetes medication
Metabolic Health

Common Diabetes Medications

Best Medicine for Diabetes

The rise in blood sugar levels is a common concern in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Insulin is an important hormone that facilitates the entry of glucose into cells from the blood. The absence of insulin or inability to use insulin results in high blood glucose levels. Medicines are crucial for controlling blood sugar levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Physicians consider several factors before prescribing common diabetes medications. Insulin is a mainstay for treating type 1 diabetes, and a vast assortment of oral medicines is available to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus.

How to choose your diabetes medication?

A single course of treatment cannot apply to everyone. Diabetes mellitus medications should only be taken after the doctor has prescribed them. The treatment depends on specific cases, types of diabetes, and other health issues you may have. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of medicines to ensure the treatment is effective. Sometimes combining medicines can increase the effectiveness of each medicine as well. Your doctor should give you a clear picture of the pros and cons of each medicine. The best type 2 medicine as well as type 1 medicine is generally insulin.

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Medications for Type 1 Diabetes

Food is the source of glucose that circulates in the blood. Our cells use this glucose to produce energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body cannot produce insulin, a hormone for enabling glucose in the blood to enter cells. This leads to a buildup of glucose, causing high blood sugar levels.

The principal treatment for type 1 diabetes is injectable insulin, as the body does not make it. One has to administer an insulin injection before consuming a meal. The amount depends upon the extent of insulin depletion, the type of food, and the amount of exercise. The physician determines the type of insulin by assessing these parameters. The following types of insulin are common in the treatment of type 1 diabetes: 

  • Short-acting
  • Rapid-acting
  • Intermediate-acting
  • Long-acting
  • Insulin combinations

Reduction of post-meal glucagon secretion to lower blood glucose is another approach. Amylinomimetic agents like Pramlintide delay gastric emptying after meals to reduce blood sugar levels. The injectable medication also lowers appetite by acting centrally.

One may require different types of insulin that start acting within a specific time. It is advisable to learn the technique of measuring blood glucose levels to determine the insulin dose at any given time. Using a syringe and needle is a common way of administering insulin. Insulin inhalation or oral insulin is not an established practice. An insulin pump is also another way of delivering a steady insulin dose.

Insulin Type How Fast It Starts to Work (onset) When It Peaks How Long It Lasts (duration)
rapid-acting/ ultra rapid-acting 15 minutes 1 hour 2 to 4 hours (rapid) 5 to 7 hours (ultra)
rapid-acting, inhaled 10 to 15 minutes 30 minutes 3 hours
regular, also called short-acting 30 minutes 2 to 3 hours 3 to 6 hours
intermediate-acting 2 to 4 hours 4 to 12 hours 12 to 18 hours
long-acting 2 hours does not peak 24 hours
ultra long-acting 6 hours does not peak 36 hours or longer

There is another type of insulin called premixed insulin which can be a combination of all insulins in varying proportions. Premix insulin starts to work in 15 to 60 minutes and can last for 10 to 16 hours. The peak time depends on the insulins mixed.

Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

Common diabetes type 2 medications comprise oral blood glucose-lowering agents that facilitate better utilization of available insulin. Insulin production is not an issue in type 2 diabetes. The body is not able to utilize insulin effectively.

Sometimes injectable insulin may be necessary to support oral anti-diabetes medication. Diabetes tablets normalize blood sugar levels and improve the utilization of available insulin. The following are categories of common type 2 diabetes medications. 

1. Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors

These drugs delay carbohydrate digestion to normalize blood glucose levels. Acarbose and miglitol belong to this group. These medications for diabetes are essential for breaking down table sugar and starch from foods. This effect lowers the blood sugar levels. These medications are prescribed by doctors to ensure you don't have low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). However, the risk of hypoglycemia is higher when it is combined with other medications. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors include acarbose and miglitol (Glyset) and these are generally taken after meals for best and safest effect.

2. Biguanides

These drugs retard the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar and minimize glucose production from the liver. Metformin is one of the most common diabetes type 2 medications. Physicians often recommend this as the first medication on confirmation of the diabetes diagnosis. It helps more effective use of insulin.  Metformin is also available in combination with other anti-diabetes medicines. Biguanides lower the level of glucose produced by the liver. They make the body more sensitive to glucose by reducing the absorption of glucose in intestines and muscles. The most commonly prescribed biguanide is metformin. It is prescribed as an oral medication for type 2 diabetes. It is also an ingredient in many medications for diabetes. Biguanides is a class of medication while the sugar tablets name is different.

3. Dopamine Agonists

These may be helpful in the prevention of insulin resistance by lowering the glucose release from the liver. Bromocriptine is a popular dopamine agonist for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The exact effect of this medication and how it treats diabetes is unknown. One possible way is that it affects the rhythm of the body and prevents insulin resistance. Bromocriptine is a dopamine-2 agonist. This tablet for diabetes is known to help manage other symptoms like high cholesterol or weight management.

4. DPP-4 Inhibitors

These drugs stimulate the pancreas to increase insulin production after meals and reduce blood sugar with no risk of hypoglycemia. Sitagliptin, Alogliptin, and Saxagliptin are some DPP-4 inhibitors. These are used to help reduce blood sugar without causing hypoglycemia. DPP-4 enzyme helps destroy the incretin which your body uses to produce insulin when required. With the use of these inhibitors, you can block this enzyme. Incretins also reduce glucose output from the liver when the body doesn't need it. These drugs can also help pancreas make more insulin.

5. GLP-1 receptor Antagonists

Drugs like albiglutide, exenatide, and liraglutide work similar to the hormone incretin. They encourage the growth of B-cell to improve the utilization of insulin. These are like incretin and they may be prescribed to those with diabetes along with a diet plan and an exercise regime to improve glycemic control. GLP-1 receptor agonists increase how much insulin your body uses and promotes the growth of pancreatic beta cells. They reduce your appetite and the amount of glucagon the body uses. They slow down the process of emptying the contents of the stomach which leads to maximum nutrient absorption while helping you lose or maintain weight. SOme people may face other issues related to heart or kidneys and GLP-1 receptor agonists are recommended to be a part of their medication regime.

6. Meglitinides

Lowering blood glucose levels is possible by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin. It is the action of meglitinides like repaglinide and nateglinide. These medications can help your body release insulin. They can lower your blood sugar levels dangerously low if you have advanced kidney disease. 

7. SGLT2 Inhibitors

Dapagliflozin and Canagliflozin are common type 2 diabetes medications. These drugs eliminate excess sugar by preventing glucose buildup in the kidneys. These work by preventing kidneys from holding on to glucose. Instead, your body gets rid of the glucose through your urine. In case of some specific renal issues or heart related risks, these are prescribed to keep the blood sugar levels in check.

8. Sulfonylurea Drugs

These are the most time-tested anti diabetes drugs that encourage the pancreas to make more insulin to lower blood glucose levels. A few of the most popular sulfonylurea drugs are glimepiride, glipizide, and glyburide. These drugs cause your pancreas to make more insulin by stimulating the pancreas with the help of beta cells. They are some of the oldest used drugs to manage diabetes.

9. Thiazolidinediones

Rosiglitazone and Pioglitazone enable the entry of more glucose into the muscles to support the working of available insulin. These work by decreasing glucose in your liver. They help the fat cells in the body use insulin by targeting insulin resistance and stabilizing blood sugar levels. These drugs come with an increased risk of heart related issues and the health of the heart should be monitored all throughout the treatment. Rosiglitazone and Pioglitazone enable the entry of more glucose into the muscles to support the working of available insulin.

Other Drugs

A physician recommends other drugs with standard diabetes tablets for lowering blood glucose levels since diabetes can affect other systems. The following may be necessary for type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

  • Medicine for high blood pressure
  • Aspirin for the proper functioning of the heart
  • Drugs that regulate blood cholesterol levels

One should continue taking the medicines regularly as per the physician’s recommendation.

Talk to your Doctor

Medicines for type 1 diabetes mainly focus on delivering insulin as the body cannot produce it. Several common diabetes type 2 medications belong to various categories of drugs. Each medication plays a distinct role. You may use medicines alone or in combination to achieve optimal blood glucose control. Your physician knows what suits you the best by understanding several health parameters like:

  • Recent history of blood sugar level
  • Bodyweight
  • Heart health
  • Other pre-existing conditions

A physician can help you achieve normal blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and medication. You can also ask your doctor about steps you need to take if your blood glucose level is too high or low. Ask the physician about possible side effects of common type 2 diabetes medications. 

Bottomline

Diabetes drugs for type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can effectively maintain normal blood glucose levels. Use these as per the doctor’s recommendation with changes in diet for their maximum effectiveness. Insulin plays a vital role in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. It may be necessary for type 2 diabetes treatment at some stage. Adequate physical activity and cessation of smoking help in diabetes management with common diabetes type 2 medications.

FAQs

What are the Top 10 Diabetes Medications?

The top 10 diabetes medications include Metformin, Jardiance, Trulicity, Pioglitazone, Glimepiride, Insulin, Glipizide, Januvia, Victoza, and Invokana. Even though these medications are used for diabetes, no one should start taking them without getting prescribed by a doctor. Self-medication is harmful and should be avoided at all costs.

What are Common Oral Diabetes Medications?

Metformin, Sitagliptin (Januvia®), saxagliptin (Onglyza®), Acarbose (Precose®,) miglitol (Glyset®), Colesevelam (Welchol®), Bromocriptine (Cyclocet®), Pioglitozone (Actos®), and rosiglitozone (Avandia®) are some common oral diabetes medications suggested by doctors. However, none of this medicine should be taken unless prescribed by a doctor. Self-medication is dangerous and can worsen your health. 

What is the Most Popular Medication for Type 2 Diabetes?

Metformin, Glinides, Sulfonylureas, Gliflozins, Glitazones, and Gliptins are some popular medications for Type 2 diabetes. However, no one should take these medicines unless prescribed by a doctor. Self-medication can worsen your diabetes instead of improving the condition.

Type 1 diabetes medications list

Here is the diabetes medication list used to manage type 1 diabetes. These are common diabetes medication. 

  1. Insulin
  • Short-acting insulin
  • Rapid-acting insulin
  • Intermediate-acting insulin
  • Long-acting insulin
  • Combination insulins
  1. Amylinomimetic injectables

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