If you faced the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, you are not alone in this. What is striking about it is that the disease is, unluckily, becoming more widespread among children and young people. Diabetes is a complex medical condition consisting of multiple factors that make the whole picture of the disease. It is the condition when the body is not able to make sufficient amounts of the hormone insulin to control blood sugar levels. Its treatment is never easy and, what is more, requires a smart approach. That is why your doctor will take into account a whole set of factors before prescribing any kind of medications for controlling type 2 diabetes mellitus.

These factors might most surely include:

  • Possible side effects of the therapy;
  • Effectiveness of treatment if there are other chronic diseases in the background (such as heart failure, liver or kidney illnesses, being overweight);
  • The condition of a patient’s heart;
  • Average blood sugar levels for a patient, usually based on an A1C test;
  • Body weight and the relation of a drug’s activity to the changes in body weight;
  • A medication’s affordability.

The results of an A1C test (measuring the average blood glucose) will also tell the doctor if it will be enough to use one medication for a patient or two of them simultaneously. The process of treatment also requires careful supervision. The doctor alone has the right to choose the appropriate types of medications for type 2 diabetes, bring changes into a treatment plan in order to avoid common complications or reach the best result without the damage to health.

Best Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

The world of medicine offers an overwhelming number of options to take by people who plan to start their diabetes treatment. Still, all those remedies are different from one another and show the best effectiveness only if prior research along with medical screening is done. Despite the common opinion that insulin injections are a universal cure, there are patients who won’t benefit from a therapy like this.

Doctors differentiate between different extents of insulin deficiency. If the level of blood sugar is closer to normal, non-insulin drugs can help better.

Among the best medications for type 2 diabetes, experts single out the following ones (see the list of medications to treat type 2 diabetes).

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

This type of medication for type 2 diabetes is prescribed to individuals to help them handle starchy food, which is supposed to lower one’s blood sugar. Acarbose makes the body absorb carbohydrates not so intensively and helps it digest simple sugars. Doctors usually direct to use them before the meal. Anyway, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are used very seldom in medical practice. There are certainly other worthy medications for type 2 diabetes.

Biguanides

This medication works in a completely different direction. Biguanides are called to control the amounts of glucose that a liver makes. Its key benefit is increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin and aiding the cells of your muscles to absorb and utilize this glucose right.

Perhaps, the most famous member of the biguanides family is metformin, which is successfully combined with other medications.

Dopamine agonist

Cycloset, or Bromocriptine, is among the oral medications for type 2 diabetes, which mechanisms of action are not fully studied yet. It’s known that it changes the way the human brain perceives dopamine by increasing the sensitivity of dopamine receptors together with making the body more sensitive to insulin. Its advantage is that during the medication’s intake, the body doesn’t need as much insulin to make use of glucose as it used to.
However, it’s wrong to consider these tablets a panacea – the drug works well only if integrated with a healthy lifestyle.

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors

According to the study, this is a safe medication affecting several body mechanisms at once – stimulating insulin secretion, slowing down the gastric response to the taken nutrients, and regulates glucose through the interaction with the enzyme DPP-4, which is responsible for the expression of the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. Its uniqueness and main use are especially valued by the patients who had no or little improvements while undergoing treatment with sulfonylureas and metformin.

Dipeptidyl peptidase inhibitors include a set of medications such as Linagliptin, Galvus, and Januvia.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists

The drug is a widespread one among the new medications for diabetes type 2 and shows effectiveness in affecting the incretin system. Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist balances the hormonal response to nutrients and lowering blood sugar back to normal. The logic of its action can be seen in the picture below.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists

Meglitinides and other

As the most popular out of meglitinides, repaglinide and nateglinide are prescribed to patients with the dysfunction of beta cells. The drug is approved by FDA for type 2 diabetes and is most often advised to use along with other remedies.

Other most common medications for treating type 2 diabetes include:

Sulfonylureas A suitable version for a tight budget that makes the pancreas produce insulin
Thiazolidinediones This medicine gives the pleasant bonus – increasing good cholesterol in the blood
Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors Prompt a gradual weight loss thereby lowers blood pressure
Bile acid sequestrants Works well in cases with serious liver problems

Other Useful Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

Apart from the main medicines helping patients to lower blood sugar and improve glucose absorption by the cells, there might be other most common medications for coping with type 2 diabetes – those that lower cholesterol, normalize blood pressure, or prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Aspirin for heart health

Research published by American Diabetes Association back in 2004 has revealed a number of benefits that aspirin can give to people who are at high risk of atherosclerosis and vascular thrombosis. Its usefulness was proven in the experiment with people rehabilitating after myocardial infarction and cardiovascular surgeries along with patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The latter group showed a 44% heart disease risk reduction.

Drugs for high cholesterol

Statins, or medicines used for controlling cholesterol, have proven efficacy also for curing type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance, as a prediabetes sign, is closely related to very high levels of cholesterol, so the two medical conditions go hand in hand. What happens when a patient with both conditions starts to take statins such as Fluvastatin, Lovastatin, or Simvastatin? The anti-inflammatory effects and the prevention of fat buildup in the arteries are amazing at lowering the damage brought to arteries by atherosclerosis by more than a half.

High blood pressure medications

This group of medications is directed for the use of patients who have the symptoms of hypertension along with type 2 diabetes. As statistical data reveals, patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes have 2 times more chances to suffer from hypertension – chronically high blood pressure. This condition, in turn, can lead to a heart stroke. In such cases, doctors recommend sticking to a healthy diet (DASH diet), watching your weight, and taking tablets such as ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and diuretics.

Both ACE inhibitors (like lisinopril) and ARBs (like losartan) tend to stimulate kidneys for the liquid to leave the body faster and, hence, lower the blood pressure. So, you are sure to do some tests to check the health of your kidneys before taking them. Diuretics, or commonly known as ‘water tablets,’ work almost in the same manner but affect your electrolyte balance.

Popular Supplements for This Type

In the war against type 2 diabetes, one can greatly improve their condition by additionally taking herbs or vitamin supplements to keep all the body’s needs met. Sometimes people hope to substitute medications with these, but in other cases, supplements become excellent additives to the main treatment substance.

Chromium

This supplement is used to bring back to normal the metabolism of carbs. The add-on is safe for most patients on condition if taken at a low dosage. Anyway, you should consult your doctor about this because if a person increases the dose, it can eventually result in dropping blood sugar too low (hypoglycemia).

Magnesium

The spectrum of this chemical is really wide – from keeping our nervous system healthy to eliminating oxidative stress. Magnesium is usually taken in the form of supplements when there is not enough magnesium in the diet (still, it’s always better to take it with food). Its effectiveness is widely researched – magnesium improves sensitivity to insulin and regulates blood pressure in diabetics.

Cinnamon

It is surprising what great effects some herbs and spices have on the human body. As if nature itself wants to heal us. Cinnamon is a very powerful additive that must be in the diet of every person fighting type 2 diabetes. Its main plus is lowering fasting blood glucose levels, as proven by 2011 research.

Other beneficial add-ons include alpha-lipoic acid that shows brilliant results in increased sensitivity to insulin, green tea that is rich in antioxidants that prompt insulin activity, resveratrol that prevents blood sugar from rising too high. The latter can be found in many grapes cultures and red wine; still, any alcohol intake should be discussed with your doctor.

How to Choose The Right Medicine

Now, when there is a variety of medication options to keep diabetes at bay, it is vital to choose treatment substances based on your individual needs and preferences. The tendency in contemporary medicine is to avoid insulin injections where possible. Most patients start with what is called non-pharmacological therapy – regular exercising and correcting their diets so that they could get the vital vitamins and minerals through healthy food. Physical activity is also a must for everybody struggling with the choice of treatment since none of the medical supplements will be effective without an appropriate lifestyle. And if the choice of medications depends more on the doctor, introducing lifestyle changes is the best that you can do at the start.

Therapies are also different due to the patients’ age, so it is another decisive factor for picking a drug.

For adults

Adults usually show significant progress while treatment with metformin, sulfonylureas, swift-acting meglitinides, and the group of medications that make the body more sensitive to insulin – thiazolidinediones, sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, etc.

The early start of pharmacologic therapy in adult patients is promising the improvement of glycemic balance and minimizing complications in curing type 2 diabetes.

Other important pieces of advice that go along with medical supplements include:

  1. Having meals scheduled;
  2. Eating only till you are full (no overeating);
  3. Increasing the amount of fiber that is contained in fruit, vegetables, nuts such as almonds and pecans;
  4. Replacing fast carbohydrates with slow ones (whole grains, e.g. quinoa and oats);
  5. Cutting down on processed food and those containing too much salt;
  6. Topping up the omega-3 intake, which is vital for heart health.

For children and teens

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children are more challenging to notice. The same chronic fatigue, the lack of energy, excessive urination, unusual thirst, and cuts that heal slowly are some of the first signs that a child’s blood sugar is above the norm. However, each kid shows them individually, let alone the fact that many children don’t show symptoms at all. And here is why regular medical screening is wise to do. Keep an eye on the enlisted symptoms, have blood glucose monitored, give up unhealthy habits and practice healthy ones to minimize the risks of a kid falling ill with type 2 diabetes.

Depending on the stage of type 2 diabetes, children might be treated with the same drugs as adults, except for a different dosage. Meglitinides, sulphonylureas, glitazones, biguanides, and many analogs of amylin show good results in young patients.

Oral Medications for Type 2 Diabetes

In a nutshell, every individual facing the choice of a medication to treat type 2 diabetes stands at the crossroads between diabetes tablets and injections. Doctors give directions about medicine intake taking into account the history of the disease (for how long you’ve had it) and what amounts of insulin your body is supposed to make naturally, in a healthy condition.

Oral medications are, surely, simpler to take, but it is the treatment process that determines whether you will need to add insulin injections or not. Insulin, in case of overdose, has heavy complications, so never try to experiment with the dosage defined by the doctor.

Luckily, many oral medications are powerful enough to keep diabetes under control and let patients experience remission. The drugs that are compared to insulin based on their activity include Acarbose, Nesina, Bromocriptine, Canagliflozin, Diabinese, Cycloset, Glyset, and many others. Your doctor might assign one of them either as a key element in treatment or as an additional supplement.

How Does Insulin Therapy Work

Insulin injections are used to control blood glucose both in cases with type 1 and type 2 diabetes when the patient’s condition cannot be kept stable just by oral medications. Basically, injected insulin takes the place of the natural insulin aiding the body to use the sugar from the blood for healthy cell functioning. It gives energy to the cells and makes them metabolize well.

Insulin is injected a few times a day, so there are actually several types of it needed for a patient. The first several times when insulin is injected into a vein, a nurse or doctor has to observe a patient’s reaction for any side effects.

Do not change the type of insulin without receiving a direct recommendation from our doctor. It is also advised to check if your insulin is transparent, colorless, and homogeneous. Before starting insulin therapy, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any type of insulin. Mention also any supplements, herbs, or non-prescribed medicines you are taking and discuss how you will use them when traveling, change exercise activity, or experience stress.

The insulin therapy is best explained with this infographic.

Methods for measuring insulin activity

When to Contact a Doctor

Get in touch with your doctor anytime you notice side effects or to discuss what dose adjustment to make this week, at what time to give yourself an injection of insulin, at what angle to inject the medicine, how to store it, etc.
A solid reason to contact your doctor is when you are planning to change the form of insulin. Since every of them has its instructions that have to be strictly followed, make sure you talk it over with the doctor.