Type 2 diabetes is a specific form of diabetes that is caused by a high level of blood sugar, or insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that seriously affects a person’s body to regulate blood sugar, or better known as glucose. Glucose is the “fuel” that feeds the body’s cells. Insulin is the hormone that aids in the process of sugar from your food entering your cells. The body naturally produces enough insulin. But in Type 2 diabetes, the body may not utilize the insulin efficiently. There are numerous treatments for the symptoms and diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.
Common Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes
Managing one’s blood sugar levels is very important for essentially every human being. Living healthy lifestyles, such as a healthy diet, proper exercise, and, of course, weight control, are essential to controlling and managing blood sugar levels. These activities form a basis for managing Type 2 diabetes.
However, a person may require some form of medication or treatment to achieve satisfactory and targeted blood sugar levels. Where a particular person may only need a single effective medication, another person may require a combination of medications and treatments to effectively manage Type 2 diabetes.
Remember, the purpose to treat Type 2 diabetes is lowering blood sugar levels. There are a variety of Type 2 oral medications that exist. Each class of medication works differently in lowering blood sugar levels. Each class of oral medication has its specific advantages along with possible side effects.
Oral Medications for Type 2 Diabetes
Following is a quick-glance comparison of common oral medications for Type 2 diabetes, including action plans, advantages, and side effects:
- Biguanides: Metformin (Fortamet, Glocophage, and others): These medications basically inhibit the release of glucose from the liver. They also immensely improve sensitivity to insulin.
The advantages are generally low cost, may promote some weight loss, and are very effective medications.
Possible side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and in some rare cases, a harmful build-up of lactic acid, or lactic acidos, when used by people with kidney or liver failure.
- Sulfonylureas: Glipizide (Glucotrol), Glimepiride (Amaryl), Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase): These oral medications effectively stimulate the release of insulin . The advantages of sulfonylureas are low cost and are very effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
Possible side effects are hypoglycemia, noticeable weight gain, and skin rash.
*Glipizide is a very good alternative for Metformin because of the lack of nausea and especially diarrhea with Glipizide.*
- Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors: These medications for Type 2 diabetes include Januvia (generic name Sitagliptin). They are relatively new treatments of oral medications for Type 2 diabetes. DPP-4 inhibitors are usually prescribed for people with Type 2 diabetes who have NOT responded very well to other medicines, such as Metformin and other Biguanides.
The advantages of DPP-4 inhibitors include helping with weight loss and significant lowering of blood glucose levels.
DPP-4 inhibitors have been linked with higher rates of Pancreatitis.
Injectable Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes
Although lifestyle changes are often recommended for managing Type 2 diabetes, most people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes eventually need to take insulin by injection. Controlling and managing blood sugar levels is very important for treating Type 2 diabetes.
Alaleh Mazhari, DO, an associate professor for endocrinology at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois, explains, “There are several scenarios in which insulin treatment should start, including in patients with significant hyperglycemia who are symptomatic. In these cases, the need for insulin may be short-term. Other situations include patients who are on multiple diabetic medicines with uncontrollable diabetes and uncontrollable diabetes in pregnancy, to name a few.”
Several studies have focused on the temporary use of insulin to regain the necessary blood sugar control in people with Type 2 diabetes. The studies’ results had shown that a two- to five-week course of a short-term intensive insulin therapy (IIT) can induce remission in Type 2 diabetes patients while being in the early periods of the disease. After stopping the intensive insulin therapy (IIT) at three months, 66 percent of the patients continued in remission. After six months, 59 percent of the patients were still in remission.
However, a large majority of Type 2 diabetes patients will require insulin after 10 to 20 years. The reason for this to occur is when a person loses most of the cells in the pancreas that provide insulin, no other medication for diabetes will actually help. Their A1C range can no longer be kept at a preferred level.
Glucagon-like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) Agonists
Many medications for Type 2 diabetes , besides insulin, are available in the form of an injection, including GLP-1 agonists. GLP-1 agonists, often called incretin mimetics, work by increasing the body’s production of insulin and decreasing the amount of sugar that the liver releases into the bloodstream.
These effects aid in:
- decreasing blood sugar levels
- reducing a person’s appetite
- helping in weight loss (in conjunction with healthier diet changes and proper exercise)
Doctors often prescribe GLP-1 agonists combined with Metformin, especially when Metformin alone will not sufficiently manage blood sugar levels. If a patient cannot take Metformin, a GLP-1 agonist is usually the next step. These type of drugs are self-injectable and many types are available.
A person may experience upset stomach and nausea when they start using a GLP-1 agonist, but this condition usually goes away. These medicines have a low risk of causing hypoglycemia.
Natural Remedies for Type 2 Diabetes
Natural remedies, such as utilizing a particular food item, are adequate methods in complementing any diabetes treatment. Following is a short list of top natural remedies for managing Type 2 diabetes:
- Apple Cider Vinegar: In Apple Cider Vinegar, acetic acid is believed to be responsible for many of its health benefits.
- Fiber and Barley: Fiber generally reduces blood sugar and insulin concentrations.
- Zinc: People with diabetes are commonly found to have a significant deficiency in zinc.
- Cinnamon: Helps to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Contact your health provider before combining any natural remedies with prescribed medications.
- Learning about Type 2 Diabetes Drugs
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Choosing a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet, weight control, and an effective exercise activity, provides the basis for controlling and managing Type 2 diabetes. The availability of Type 2 diabetes medications is very diverse and confusing. Learning about drugs for Type 2 diabetes-how they are to be taken properly, what they do, and what side effects of each medication potentially exist-will help a person discuss the variety of treatment options with their doctor.
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