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Noninsulin Medicines for Type 2 Diabetes

About This Medicine

Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.

The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

What are some examples?

Here are some examples of noninsulin medicines for diabetes.

Some of these medicines may be combined in one pill.

  • canagliflozin (Invokana)
  • exenatide (Byetta)
  • glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)
  • metformin (Glucophage)
  • pioglitazone (Actos)
  • sitagliptin (Januvia)

This is not a complete list.

Why are noninsulin medicines for diabetes used?

Noninsulin medicines for diabetes help you control blood sugar. You take oral medicines by mouth. Some noninsulin medicines are injected into the body with a needle. One of the noninsulin medicines, metformin, is sometimes used to treat prediabetes.

How do they work?

There are different types of noninsulin medicines for diabetes. Each type works in a different way to help you control your blood sugar. For example, some types of noninsulin medicines help your body make insulin to lower your blood sugar. Others lower how much insulin your body needs. Some types can slow how quickly your body digests sugars or can remove extra glucose through your urine.

What should you know about side effects?

All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.

But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.

If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.

Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

What are some cautions about noninsulin medicines for diabetes?

Cautions for noninsulin medicines for diabetes include the following:

  • It is important to check your blood sugar as your doctor says. If a medicine is not working well, you may need to try other medicines or combinations.

General cautions for all medicines

Allergic reactions.
All medicines can cause a reaction. This can sometimes be an emergency. Before you take any new medicine, tell the doctor or pharmacist about any past allergic reactions you've had.
Drug interactions.
Sometimes one medicine may keep another medicine from working well. Or you may get a side effect you didn't expect. Medicines may also interact with certain foods or drinks, like grapefruit juice and alcohol. Some interactions can be dangerous.
Harm during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist if all the medicines you take are safe.
Other health problems.
Before taking a medicine, be sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all your health problems. The medicine for one health problem may affect another health problem.

Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.

Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

Credits

Current as of: December 2, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Theresa O'Young PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

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