Metabolic Health

Know List Of Common Diabetes Medications

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

List of Common Diabetes Medications

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 type 2 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.

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.

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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. Medicines for type 2 diabetes 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

7. SGLT2 Inhibitors

Dapagliflozin and Canagliflozin are common type 2 diabetes medications. These drugs eliminate excess sugar by preventing glucose buildup in the kidneys. 

8. Sulfonylurea Drugs

These are the most time-tested anti-diabetes medicines 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.

9. Thiazolidinediones

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 medicines 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. 


Medicines 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. 

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