Diabetic Medication 101

Managing your diabetes will always begin with a proper diet and plenty of exercise. However, depending upon your symptoms, your doctor may decide to start you on medication as well to help control your blood sugar levels.

Diabetic patients are often overwhelmed by the range of diabetic medication available in the US – let’s try simply these medications into 3 main groups.

Oral Diabetic Pills

Like any medication, oral diabetic pills will work differently for everyone. Diabetic pills show the best results for patients have recently developed diabetes and have needed little or no insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

While the cause is still unclear, diabetic pills have been known to stop working after a period of time. This does not mean that your diabetes is getting worse – only that your therapy needs to be adjusted.

Because there is no “one size fits all” diabetic pill, you should work closely with your doctor to determine the most appropriate therapy for you. Click here to learn more about how diabetic pills work from the American Diabetic Association.


Many people think of insulin as a drug – but it is actually a hormone made naturally by our pancreas. Your doctor has prescribed you insulin because either your body does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or your body does not adequately use the insulin that it does produce (type 2 diabetes). The goal is to use this “supplemental” prescribed insulin to help your body maintain normal blood glucose levels.

There are many different types of insulin available in the US – all ranging in how they were made, how they work in your body, and how much they cost. Work closely with your doctor to determine which insulin is best for you.

Non-Insulin Injections

Pramlintide and Exenatide are both non-insulin injections that are taken at meal times to improve glycemic control.

Exenatide (also known as Byetta) is a relatively new drug approved for type 2 diabetes. Referred to as an incretin mimetic, Exenatide is a synthetic version of a naturally-occuring hormone found in the saliva of a Gila monster lizard and works to lower blood glucose levels by increasing insulin secretion. Exenatide is only approved for use in type 2 diabetes.

Pramlintide (also known as Symlin) is synthetic version of the hormone amylin, which is produced by beta cells in the pancreas. By injecting Pramlintide with meals, many patients have notice modest improvements in their A1c levels without experiencing hypoglycemia. Pramlintide has been approved for use in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

As always, please discuss with your doctor which medication, if any, would be best for you.

Diabetes CTA

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