DIABETES CARE – ORAL MEDICATION

  • Is it compulsory to take medications for a person who is recently diagnosed with diabetes, even if he has started with diet and exercise?
  • Is there no other substitute for oral diabetes medications?
  • What important points one need to discuss with the healthcare provider before starting any medication?
  • If one is taking anti-diabetes medicine, does he still have to control his diet or exercise?
  • What’s the difference between generic and brand name medicines?
  • How do we know if our diabetes pill is working?
  • If the blood sugar level comes under control, can one stop using anti diabetes medicine?
  • Is it that people with diabetes will need diabetes medications forever?
  • Are anti-diabetes medicine harmful for the kidneys?
Is it compulsory to take medications for a person who is recently diagnosed with diabetes, even if he has started with diet and exercise?

Over time, diabetes can cause various health problems. But blood glucose levels can be managed and complications can only be prevented by keeping the blood glucose levels on target.

Often, the first line of treatment for type 2 diabetes management is healthy diet and eating habits, weight management, and regular physical activity and some people are able to control their diabetes with these measures. However, these measures are not enough to control diabetes for longer period of time. So the next step to manage your diabetes is taking a medicine that lowers blood glucose levels.

Is there no other substitute for oral diabetes medications?

There are many types of effective medicines to treat diabetes which helps to keep blood sugar levels in the right range. At present to manage diabetes two class of medications are available:

Oral diabetes medications (taken by mouth) are also called oral anti-hyperglycemic drugs (OADs) or oral hypoglycemic agents (OHA’s). There are another class of diabetes medicine which are injectable like insulin but work in different manner.

What important points one need to discuss with the healthcare provider before starting any medication?

It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of a drug with your doctor before starting any therapy. It is important to know the name of your diabetes medicine (or medicines), how it is taken, the reasons for taking it, how does it work and possible side-effects.

If one is taking anti-diabetes medicine, does he still have to control his diet or exercise?

It is important to remember that diabetes medications can’t control your sugar levels alone. They work best when you regularly follow a meal plan and your physical activity regimen.

What’s the difference between generic and brand name medicines?

The generic name is the name of the medicine’s chemical makeup. The brand name is the name that the company who makes the medicine uses to advertise and sell the drug. For example, metformin comes from a class of drugs called biguanides. The company that introduced this drug sells it under the brand name Glucophage.

How do we know if our diabetes pill is working?

The best way to find out how well the diabetes pill is working is to do regular monitoring of blood sugars. Discuss with the healthcare provider on how and when to check the sugars. Keep a record of your blood sugar levels and check if they met your recommended targets. Discuss your results with the doctor. This will help the doctor and the patient understand about the efficiency of the medicine in controlling diabetes.

If the blood sugar level comes under control, can one stop using anti diabetes medicine?

It’s reasonable to think that after one gets good blood sugar control, the medicines are not required. But that’s not the case. Sometimes when people are first diagnosed, they start on pills or insulin right away. If the person also works hard to control diabetes with diet and exercise, he or she can lower the need for medicine and might be able to stop taking it altogether. As long as the person is able to keep blood sugar levels normal with diet and exercise, there isn’t a need for medicine.

However, type 2 diabetes changes over time and also with increasing age. The change can be fast or slow, but it does change. This means that even if a person was able to stop taking medicine for a while, he or she might need to start taking it again in the future. If a person is taking medicine to keep blood sugar normal, then it’s important to keep taking it to lower the chances of heart disease and other health complications related to diabetes.

Is it that people with diabetes will need diabetes medications forever?

It is very likely that people with diabetes will stay on some kind of medication forever as diabetes at present is not curable.

Are anti-diabetes medicine harmful for the kidneys?

Diabetes medicines usually do not directly affect our kidneys but if you have a kidney problem some medication doses have to be altered or you have to stop taking them and switch to insulin therapy as most of the oral diabetes medications are contraindicated in kidney disease.

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