Some people with Type 2 diabetes can manage their disease with diet and exercise, but for the millions who still experience spikes in blood sugar, it may be time to add medication to their diabetes care routine.
For some, a single pill is effective. For many, however, a combination of medications is needed. It may take time finding a good balance but it is well worth the effort. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious health issues including heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, blindness and amputations due to neuropathy.
The most commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes medication is metformin, which belongs to a family of drugs called biguanides. Metformin works by decreasing the amount of sugar the liver releases and by helping the body use its own available insulin more efficiently.
Other diabetes medications work differently. Some help the pancreas produce and release more insulin. Others block the action of stomach enzymes that break down carbohydrates so that not as much sugar is released into the bloodstream. Some slow digestion and others make cells more sensitive to insulin.
These drugs are taken as pills or injection, and some are available in combination form. These medications can be highly effective at controlling blood sugar levels; however, they do come with side effects, some of which can be serious. Common side effects include weight gain, rashes, and gastrointestinal upsets.
Some drugs can increase the risk of cancer. For example, Actos has been linked to bladder cancer, and Byetta and Januvia can increase the risk for acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
It is especially important for diabetic patients to closely follow a diabetes care routine following a strict diet and exercise plan as well as medication plan if advised by their doctors. If medication is required, patients should be aware of the risks and be monitored by their doctors.
Source: Everyday Health