Diabetes Medication

It is important for people with diabetes to understand how to manage their illness with prescribed medications, including insulin. Providers at MaineHealth are available to work with and educate patients about the best medications to control diabetes and achieve optimal health.

What is diabetes medication/insulin?

Deciding which medications are best for diabetes depends on the type of diabetes, other health conditions, the duration of the disease and possible side effects. Type 1 diabetes requires that you take insulin because your body no longer makes insulin.

There are several causes for Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is often marked by insulin-resistance, which is when the body does not utilize insulin properly. Many medications are available to treat Type 2 diabetes.

Your provider may prescribe more than one medication to treat your diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes may be encouraged to have more physical activity, eat healthier foods and control their stress in order to control their blood glucose. A provider also may prescribe medications. There are three categories of diabetes medications: oral medications, insulin and non-insulin injectable medications.

What are diabetes oral medications?

There are many oral diabetes medications. Oral medications for diabetes work by increasing insulin secretion, helping cells respond more effectively to insulin, decreasing the liver's glucose production, and slowing the intestinal absorption of carbohydrates. Different oral diabetes medications have different potential side effects. Discuss with your provider the side effects of your prescribed medications and ways to decrease the side effects.

Some oral medications increase the risk of low blood sugars. Know if your medications put you at risk for low blood sugars and be prepared at all times to treat a low blood sugar if needed. Taking insulin puts patients at risk for low blood sugars. If you are on insulin, know how to treat a low blood sugar and always have something available to treat a low blood sugar.

Why do I need insulin?

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose from food eaten to enter cells in the body.

  • Patients with Type 1 diabetes have little to no insulin being made by the pancreas, which leads to a glucose build-up in the blood. Patients with Type 1 diabetes need to inject or inhale insulin.
  • Some patients with Type 2 diabetes may also require insulin because of insulin resistance and/or because their pancreas is no longer able to make insulin.

Diabetes non-insulin injectable medications

There are other non-insulin injectable medications to treat diabetes. These medications can help the pancreas produce more insulin and decrease the amount of sugar put out by the liver. Some of these medications might also decrease appetite and promote weight loss.

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