Starting with the former line takes all hope out. Also, many people feel diabetes can be reversed.

The best way to manage 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.

See a complete list of medications for type 1 and type 2 diabetes »

Diabetes Medications

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 ,Glumetza)
  • Thiazolidinediones
    • Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
    • Pioglitazone (Actos)

Medications that Increase Insulin Production or Prevent the Degradation of Insulin

  • DPP-IV inhibitors:  
    • Saxagliptin (Onglyza)
    • Sitagliptin (Januiva)
    • Linagliptin (Tradjenta)
    • Alogliptin (Nesina)
  • Meglitinides
    • Repaglinide (Prandin)
    • Nateglinide (Starlix)
  • Sulfonylureas
    • 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)

Insulin Therapy

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. An inhalable form of insulin is also in development.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.