Understanding Different Types of Diabetes Medication

If you are one of the millions of people worldwide suffering from Type 2 diabetes, you already know that this disease can put you at risk for several health complications that can be deadly. Carefully controlling your diabetes through medications and other lifestyle changes can help you lead a happy, healthy, and long life. Each of these types of diabetes medication helps to lower blood glucose levels, but they work in different ways.


This class of diabetes drugs stimulates the beta cells in your pancreas to release more insulin. Patients generally take these medications one or two times a day, usually before meals. They may interact with other medications so it’s important to discuss all prescriptions and supplements with your doctor first.


Biguanides help to lower blood glucose by decreasing insulin production in the liver, and by making muscle tissue more sensitive to insulin so it can better absorb glucose. There are some unpleasant side effects, but you can discuss these with your doctor to see if these medications are right for you.


Like sulfonylureas, meglitinides stimulate beta cells to release insulin. Patients take these pills right before each of three meals per day, and they carry the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) since they stimulate the release of insulin.


Taking thiazolidinediones will reduce glucose production in the liver while simultaneously helping insulin work better in the muscle and fat tissue. Previous medications similar to this caused serious liver problems for patients and are no longer available; while these diabetes medications have not shown the same problem, it’s important to keep an eye on your live to monitor for problems.

DPP-4 Inhibitors

These are a new class of diabetes drugs that inhibit the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4), which helps improve A1C levels without the risk of hypoglycemia. They prevent the breakdown of a naturally-occurring compound called GLP-1, which reduces blood glucose but is broken down too quickly in the body to be useful as a diabetes treatment on its own. When GLP-1 remains in the body longer, it lowers blood glucose levels whenever they become elevated. Popular DPP-4 inhibitors include sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), and linagliptin (Tradjenta). These drugs are expensive, but you can often find them for much less when you purchase from a reputable online pharmacy in Canada.

SGLT2 Inhibitors

Glucose in your blood automatically passes through your kidneys, and a sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2) will ensure that excess glucose is excreted through your urine rather than being reabsorbed into the body. They do carry a risk of urinary tract and yeast infections since they increase glucose levels in the urine.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

Drugs that slow down your body’s natural process of breaking down starches (bread, potatoes, pasta) can help control diabetes by slowing the spike of blood glucose following a meal.

Bile Acid Sequestrants

Using this cholesterol-lowering medication can reduce blood glucose levels in diabetes patients by removing LDL cholesterol from the body, although the exact mechanism by which these medications lower glucose is not well understood. They are a safe alternative for patients who may not be able to take other medications because of liver issues.

In addition to all these options, some doctors may recommend that you take a combination of two or more of these medications together for even greater control of your diabetes. Talk to your doctor today to find out more.

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