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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes Medicines You Don’t Inject

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    When you think about diabetes drugs, you may think of insulin or other medications that you get from a shot or a pump. But there are others that you take as a pill or that you inhale. 

    Your doctor will consider exactly what you need, which may include more than one type of diabetes medicine. The goal is to get your best blood sugar control, and the oral drugs do that in several ways.

    Acarbose (Precose)

    How it works: Blocks enzymes that help digest starches, slowing the rise in blood sugar. It belongs to a group of drugs called “alpha-glucosidase inhibitors.” Side effects for these kinds of drugs include stomach upset (gas, diarrhea, nausea, cramps).

    Alogliptin (Nesina)

    How it works: Boosts insulin levels when blood sugars are too high, and tells the liver to cut back on making sugars. Your doctor may call this type of drug a “DPP-IV inhibitor.” These drugs do not cause weight gain. You may take them alone or with another drug, like metformin.

    Bromocriptine mesylate (Cycloset, Parlodel)

    How it works: This tablet raises the level of dopamine, a brain chemical. It’s approved help improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes, along with diet and exercise. It’s not used to treat type 1 diabetes.

    Canagliflozin (Invokana)

    How it works: Boosts how much glucose leaves your body in urine, and blocks your kidney from reabsorbing glucose. Your doctor may call this type of drug a “SGLT2 inhibitor.” Side effects can include:

    Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)

    How it works: Lowers blood sugar by prompting the pancreas to release more insulin. Your doctor may call this type of drug “sulfonylureas.” This drug is not used as often as newer sulfonylureas. Side effects of sulfonylureas include:

    • Low blood sugar
    • Upset stomach
    • Skin rash or itching
    • Weight gain

    Colesevelam (Welchol)

    How it works: Lowers “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and improves blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes. Your doctor will call this type of drug a “bile acid sequestrant.”

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