There are a number of treatments available to help you manage and control your diabetes. Everybody is different, so treatment will vary depending on your own individual needs.
If you have Type 1 diabetes, you will need to treat the condition with insulin, whereas if you have Type 2, you may initially be able to manage your condition with diet and exercise.
Your GP or a healthcare professional can help you find the right treatment to suit you and your lifestyle.
Tablets and medication
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, and over time you may need medication to help manage your blood sugar levels.
TABLETS AND MEDICATION
There are a number of different medications available to people with diabetes, all of which work in a variety of different ways. Not all treatments are suitable for everyone, so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself needing to change or stop certain medications. Your GP or healthcare professional can help you find a medication that’s best for your individual needs.
- Biguanide (Metformin)
If you have Type 2 diabetes, metformin is usually the first diabetes medication prescribed if a healthy diet and physical activity alone has not sufficiently helped to control your blood sugar levels (also called blood glucose levels).
Tablets in this family work by stimulating the cells in your pancreas to make more insulin, helping it to work more effectively within your body.
- Alpha glucosidase inhibitor (arcabose)
Arcabose slows down the intestine’s absorption of starchy foods, in turn, slowing down any rise in blood sugar levels after meals.
Similar to sulphonylureas, this medication stimulates the cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin. They work much quicker than sulphonylureas, but only last for a short time, so are taken half an hour before each meal.
- Thiazolidinediones (glitazones)
This medication reduces insulin resistance and improves sensitivity, allowing the insulin that your body produces to work more effectively. Additionally, it helps to protect the cells in the pancreas, allowing them to produce insulin for a longer period of time.
- Incretin mimetics
Incretin hormones help the body to produce more insulin when needed and reduce the amount of glucose production when it’s not needed. The hormone also reduces the rate at which the stomach digests food and empties. This medication increases the level of incretins in the body.
- DPP-4 inhibitors (gliptins)
DPP-4 inhibitors work by blocking the action of DPP-4, an enzyme that destroys the hormone, incretin.
- SGLT2 inhibitors
This medication reduces the amount of glucose absorbed by your kidneys and your blood.
Everyone with Type 1 diabetes, and some people with Type 2 diabetes, need to take insulin to control blood sugar levels (also called blood glucose levels).
Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas, which lies just behind your stomach. It helps our bodies use glucose for energy. Everyone with Type 1 diabetes and some people with Type 2 diabetes need to take insulin – either by injection or a pump – to control their blood glucose levels (also called blood sugar levels).
Insulin is injected using a syringe and needle, or an insulin pen or needle. The needles used are very small as the insulin only needs to be injected under the skin (subcutaneously) – not into a muscle or vein. Once it’s been injected, it soaks into small blood vessels and is taken into the bloodstream. As your confidence grows and you become more relaxed, injections will get easier and soon become second nature.
The most frequently used injection sites are the thighs, buttocks and abdomen. You may be able to inject into your upper arms, but check with your diabetes team first as this isn’t always suitable. As all these areas cover a wide skin area, you should inject at different sites within each of them. It is important to rotate injection sites, as injecting into the same place can cause a build up of lumps under the skin (also known as lipohypertrophy), which make it harder for your body to absorb and use the insulin properly.
Edited by Ariasun editorial board
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