For many people with diabetes, medication is critical. Though a healthy diet and regular exercise are also important, medication may be a necessary step to keep blood sugar under control and prevent the complications of diabetes.
Diabetes medication comes in many forms, and each person's prescription will depend on the type and severity of their diabetes, as well as other considerations. Possibilities, however, include insulin doses, other injectable medications and oral medications that help manage diabetes. For some, low-dose aspirin, flu vaccines and other medications that prevent complications of diabetes are also a part of their diabetes management plan.
Types of Medication
For type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not produce insulin, doses of insulin on a regular basis are a must. Insulin helps the body regulate blood sugar levels, and it can be delivered via an injection, a pump or another method of infusing it into the body.
With type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin the way that it should. Exercise and eating healthfully should help, but many also need an oral medication to help the body use insulin properly and regulate blood sugar. The drug metformin is often the first medicine tried for people who need oral medication. Often, some trial and error or a combination of pills is ultimately needed to help people regulate their insulin use and blood sugar levels.
Two relatively new injectable medications, which are different from insulin, also are available. They prevent your blood sugar from rising too high after you eat.
In addition, medication needs may be different for those who have a rarer form of diabetes and for women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
SOURCES: American Diabetes Association; U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases