Monday, September 10, 2007

Oral Diabetes Medicines

Why did my doctor prescribe oral diabetes medicine for me?
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body's tissues do not get enough insulin. This results in high blood sugar levels. Some people who have type 2 diabetes don't make enough insulin. Other people make enough insulin but their bodies are not able to use it properly.

Some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin in shots to help control their blood sugar levels. Most take pills by mouth (oral medicine) to help control their diabetes. Some people take insulin and oral medicines.

What are some common oral diabetes medicines?There are 5 types of oral diabetes medicines. Your doctor will decide which type of medicine is right for you.

Sulfonylureas help your body make more insulin. These are the most common type of oral diabetes medicine. Some examples of sulfonylureas include acetohexamide (brand name: Dymelor), chlorpropamide (brand name: Diabinese), glipizide (brand name: Glucotrol) and glyburide (brand names: DiaBeta, Glynase, Micronase).

Metformin (brand name: Glucophage) helps control blood sugar in a couple of ways. It helps your body use insulin better. It also helps your body make less sugar and reduces the amount of sugar your body absorbs from food. It almost never causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Meglitinides help your body make more insulin. Examples include nateglinide (brand name: Starlix) and repaglinide (brand name: Prandin). These pills are usually taken with meals.

Thiazolidinediones help your body use insulin better. They also help your body make less sugar. There are 2 thiazolidinediones: pioglitazone (brand name: Actos) and rosiglitazone (brand name: Avandia).

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors help your body absorb sugar more slowly to keep your blood sugar lower. This type of medicine is taken every time you eat a meal. There are 2 alphaglucosidase inhibitors: acarbose (brand name: Precose) and miglitol (brand name: Glyset).

Sometimes two kinds of medicines are given together. For example, glyburide combined with metformin (brand name: Glucovance), glipizide combined with metformin (brand name: Metaglip) and rosiglitazone combined with metformin (brand name: Avandamet).

Do these medicines have any side effects?

Like most medicines, these drugs can cause side effects. Your doctor may want to see you or want you to have tests (like liver tests) to check for problems. However, the side effects usually are not severe and are not common. Side effects of oral diabetes medicines may include the following:

Nausea and vomiting
Gas and bloating
Decreased appetite
Headache and/or muscle aches
Flu- or cold-like symptoms
Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may be having.

Will a diabetic drug interact with my other medicines?
If you take 2 or more drugs at the same time, how the drug works can change. When this happens, the risk of side effects increases. This is called a "drug-drug interaction." Vitamins and herbal supplements can affect the way your body processes drugs too.

Drug-drug interactions can be dangerous. Be certain that your doctor knows all of the over-the-counter and prescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements that you are taking. Also, talk to your doctor before you take any new over-the-counter or prescription medicine or use a vitamin or herbal supplement.

Certain foods or drinks can also keep your medicine from working the way it should or make side effects worse. This is called a "drug-food interaction." For example, if you’re taking an oral diabetes medicine, drinking alcohol can increase your risk of low blood sugar.

Know the signs

People who have diabetes need to know the signs of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar ) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Make sure your family members, friends and coworkers know how to help you in an emergency situation.

Signs of low blood sugar:
Cold sweats and pale, cool skin
Fast heartbeat
Extreme hunger
Diarrhea or gas

Exercising more than usual can sometimes cause low blood sugar. Keep candy, juice or glucose tablets on hand to treat low blood sugar. Call your doctor if your symptoms become severe or bothersome.

Signs of high blood sugar:
Increased hunger
Increased thirst
Increased urination

Eating more than you usually do, forgetting to take your diabetes medicine, or taking another medicine that you don't usually take can all cause high blood sugar. Call your doctor if any of the above symptoms become severe.