There is no cure for type 2 diabetes. The best way to help reduce the symptoms of the type 2 diabetes is by making lifestyle changes including regular exercise and eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet. In many cases, that is all that’s needed to manage the condition. In some cases, it’s necessary to take prescription medications along with making behavioral changes. There are several different medications designed to help lower levels of blood glucose as well as increase insulin sensitivity.
Several oral and injectible medications can help lower blood glucose levels and increase sensitivity to insulin. These include:
Medications that Alter Insulin Action
These drugs act primarily by lowering the amount of glucose produced. They also help reduce the levels of blood glucose by making muscle tissue more sensitive to insulin, allowing for better absorption of glucose.
- Metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Riomet)
- Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
- Pioglitazone (Actos)
Medications that Increase Insulin Production or Prevent the Degradation of Insulin
- DPP-IV inhibitors:
- Saxagliptin (Onglyza)
- Sitagliptin (Januiva)
- Exenatide (Byetta)
- Repaglinide (Prandin)
- Nateglinide (Starlix)
- Glipizide (Glucotrol)
- Glimepiride (Amaryl)
- Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase)
Medications that Interfere with Glucose Absorption
These drugs act by preventing the breakdown of food into sugars and, therefore, blocking the body's absorption of glucose.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (Precose, Acarbose)
Oftentimes, because the pancreas does not make insulin, it is necessary to give insulin to a person with type II diabetes. Insulin in delivered via an injection into the skin, often multiple times per day. There are many different types of insulins and varying regimens that can be used to optimize therapy for people with type II diabetes.
Also, it is sometimes possible to have a small pump inserted under the skin to deliver insulin through a small plastic tube, at constant and varying rates throughout the day. This prevents having to repeatedly have injections throughout the day, but it requires that the pump always be attached the person, except for small intervals for activities like showering.