To understand how diabetes medication works, we need to understand diabetes. Glucose is the fuel which gives energy to every cell of the body. However, when, for some reason, the glucose in the blood cannot be transferred to the cells, diabetes occurs. The sugar level in the blood rises while the cells starve. This usually occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, which facilitates the transfer of glucose.
Nowadays, a lot of drugs are prescribed for people who have diabetes. However, it should be remembered that diabetes medication is not a cure for the disorder. They need to be supported by a rigorous exercise and diet and vigilant monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Medications are prescribed according to the type of diabetes.
In the first type of diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. People who have this kind of diabetes can be treated by daily insulin injections to make up for the lack in the body.
In the second type of diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, but it fails to have a good effect on the cells of the body. There is a whole range of choices of diabetes medication available from which the physician can prescribe according to the details of the case.
Insulin is usually injected into the fatty tissue, from where it is slowly absorbed in the bloodstream. There are several types of insulin available. Some are long-lasting, while others are quick acting. While selecting the insulin, make sure that you consult your physician who will choose insulin according to the kind of diabetes you have and your lifestyle.
The three parameters that are taken into account while prescribing insulin are Onset, or the time it takes for the insulin to act, Peak Time, when the effect of the insulin in lowering the blood sugar levels is at its maximum and Duration, the time for which the insulin is adequate.
Normally, a combination of different types of insulin is prescribed.
In the last few decades, the Insulin Pump has become quite popular as it allows flexibility and independence, which standard insulin injections don’t.
For people with type 2 diabetes, oral drugs are often prescribed. These are usually classified into six different types.
Sulfonylureas: These drugs encourage the pancreas to increase its output of insulin. But, a common sideeffect of this drug is Hypoglycemia or abnormally low blood sugar. Another disadvantage of this class of drugs is that they stop functioning after a while.
Biguanides: These medicines reduce the production of glucose in the body. They are also quite useful in aiding weight reduction.
Alpha Glucosidase Inhibitors: If taken just before a meal, these medicines slow down the rate of digestion and hence the rate of glucose production. However, these are often prescribed only in combination with other drugs.
Meglitinides: Like the Alpha Glucosidase Inhibitors, these medicines are also consumed just before a meal. However, instead of slowing down digestion and reducing the production of glucose in the body, they increase the production of insulin. The final result, however, is the same – the lowering of the blood sugar levels.
Thiazolidinediones: Rather than affecting the blood sugar or insulin production in the body, these medicines encourage the cells in the body to accept insulin. But, recent studies have shown that they can sometimes increase the risk of heart attacks.
DPP-4 Inhibitors: These medicines are a new development. They block the action of the enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase IV or DPP IV. This also has the effect of lowering blood sugar levels.
Commonly reported side effects of diabetes medication are diarrhoea, loss of appetite, metallic taste, bloating, and gas. On top of these, each of these drugs has a specific range of possible side effects. Discuss these options with your physician
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