Knowing your Diabetes Medication

Knowing your Diabetes Medication

Diabetes is a disorder where the body is unable to produce the required amount of insulin for proper functioning of the organs. Insulin is a hormone secreted by pancreas, which helps in breaking down glucose generated after digestion of sugar present in the food.

When there is deficiency in the insulin level due to improper pancreas function or ‘insulin resistance’ by body cells, the glucose level in the blood is rises up tremendously leading to a metabolic disorder which is termed as ‘Diabetes’.

The various new trends, less involvement in physical activities and unhealthy food habits has increased the number of diabetes around the world. Around 415 million people were affected worldwide by diabetes by the year 2015 which is likely to double in the coming years!!

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Therefore, one needs to be conscious about his or her health and food habits to live a healthy life.

However, diabetes isn’t an incurable disease!

With proper medication, diet control and exercise, one can easily get rid of this and medication play the most vital role in curing of this disease. So, if a diabetic person takes the right medicine then he or she would become healthy in a very short period of time

How will you learn more about your diabetes?

The realization of being diabetic can be quite devastating for some people. Generally, people go into depression when they are diabetic. There are loads of complications involved in the treatment of this disease which can be annoying and tiring as well. So, it’s suggested you always seek guidance and help from your physician or doctor who will inform and explain you about all the things that are needed to be done.

First thing, your physician will try to detect is which diabetes you have developed.

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Note:Among these three types of diabetes, the most occurring diabetes is the type 2 diabetes. About 90% diabetic patients around the globe are affected by this whereas 10% are affected by type 1 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a disorder which occurs in pregnant woman due to various hormonal changes during the pregnancy phase.

Once your physician learns the type of diabetes you have developed, he will brief you about the treatment you will go through. The treatment varies according to the type of diabetes.

Generally, the foremost treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin therapy on daily basis whereas for the type 2 diabetic patients, the treatment starts with oral medicines. Along with the regular medications, a diet plan and exercise regime is also prepared since it helps in quicker recovery.

It is common to see doctors prescribing various medicines to lower blood pressure and cholesterol level along with the blood sugar medicines. Well, they do so, because during the diabetic condition the risk of cardiovascular diseases, vision problems, heart problems, nerve damages etc. increases.

What is the medication therapy for diabetes?

When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, the physician prescribes medicine on three bases:

  • The type of diabetes the patient has developed
  • The blood glucose level at the time of diagnosis
  • Other disease the person may be suffering from

The medication therapy for type 1 diabetes:

The type 1 diabetic patient is prescribed with insulin therapy upon diagnosis (it may vary from person to person), where the patient is injected with insulin dosage according to the body weight, lifestyle and level of insulin resistance in the body.

Mostly, people use syringe to inject, however, some are also given insulin pens. For the ones who are at a serious stage, an immediate insulin pump is used.

Note: Insulin pump is an electronic device which transfers the required amount of insulin in the diabetic patient’s body over the course of the day. It is carefully programmed to meet individual needs for insulin.

However, there are several kinds of insulin injecting devices available in the market which is used according to the severity of diabetes and the financial status of the patient.

Some of them are:

  • Rapid-acting:insulin as part (NovoLog, FlexPen), insulin glulisine (Apidra), insulin lispro (Humalog)
  • Short-acting:regular (R) (Humulin, Novolin, and other brands)
  • Intermediate-acting:insulin isophane (Humulin, Novolin, Iletin)
  • Long-acting:insulin detemir (Levemir), insulin glargine (Lantus)

Some of the common type 1 diabetes medicines that are used are:

  • Pramlintide(SymlinPen 120, SymlinPen 60)
  • aspirin for heart health
  • cholesterol-lowering medication
  • high blood pressure medication

The medication therapy for type 2 diabetes:

Like the type 1 diabetes medications therapy, type 2 diabetes also involves insulin therapy in the beginning. Although for type 2 diabetic patients the insulin therapy may not be prescribed for a lifelong period. However, if it is a severe stage, insulin therapy is must.

Some other medicines which are prescribed are:

  • Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza, others):
    • It is the first medicine which is prescribed for the type 2 diabetic patients.
    • It improves the sensitivity of body tissue to the insulin thus reducing the ‘Insulin resistance’ of the cells and also lowers the glucose production of liver.
    • However, it cannot lower the blood glucose level in the body.
    • Nausea and diarrhoea are its side-effects which will go away once the patient is used to the medicine.
  • Sulfonylureas (glyburide, glipizide and glimepiride):
    • Increases the insulin production in body.
    • Possible side-effects include low blood sugar and weight gain.
  • Meglitinides(repaglinide and nateglinide):
    • Stimulates pancreas to secrete more insulin and works better than sulfonylureas.
    • However, it works only for a short duration.
    • There are chances of weight gain because of this medication.
  • Thiazolidinediones (Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone):
    • Helps in making body tissues more sensitive to insulin.
    • Has severe side-effects such as weight gain, heart failure and fractures, which doesn’t make it the first choice among the medicines.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors (itagliptin, saxagliptin and linagliptin):
    • Decreases the blood sugar level in the body but has modest effects.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists (Exenatide and liraglutide):
    • Slows the digestion and lowers the blood sugar level in the body but not like Sulfonylureas.
    • It also helps in weight loss.
    • But can causenausea and an increases risk of pancreatitis.
    • Not recommended to be used by own.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors (canagliflozin and dapagliflozin):
    • Prevents the kidneys to absorb sugar into the blood rather stimulates the sugar to get excreted along with the urine.
    • They are the newest medicines in the market and has shown positive effects.
    • Some of the side effects include yeast infections, urinary tract infections, increased urination and hypotension.

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What should you do for your treatment?

Your participation in the treatment is a must. Along with following the advice of your physician, dietician and nurse, you must also enquire about you treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any medication given to you, since it’s the matter of your health.

Some questions you should ask your doctor or nurse are:

  • Why are you prescribing me this drug? What are the effects?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • How can I minimize the side effects?
  • How long will the drug take to work?
  • What are the symptoms to know the drug is working for me?
  • How should I take the drug?
  • What if I miss taking dosage?
  • Will it cause problems to my body if I am taking medicines for other disease?
  • Is there is generic drug which works as well?

For both type of diabetes, insulin syringes or pens are generally prescribed. If you are completely new to this, you must seek guidance from a well-trained and registered diabetes educator, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physician or dietician to learn the proper technique to inject the medicine in your body.

Note: If you have vision problems or problem with fine motor control, then you should ask your nurse, pharmacist or dietician to help you in injecting the medicine.

Who should you ask for help for getting the maximum knowledge about the drugs you have been prescribed?

Pharmacists are the ones who can give you maximum knowledge about the medicines, therefore, if in doubt, you can also ask them for help.

Here are few questions you should ask your pharmacist before starting your medication:

  • When should I take the drug?
  • Whether to take the drug before or after eating?
  • Is it safe to drink alcohol or any other juice while taking the drug?
  • Whether the drug would cause problem if I take other drugs for a different disease?
  • What are the tools and technique to use the drugs?
  • Is there any special packaging for the drugs if I have problem handling them?
  • Is there the instruction and content label on the drug package?
  • What are the alternatives for the drugs if I have problem in swallowing?
  • Is there any way of simplifying the medication plan?

Note: It is advised that you take all your drugs and medications tool at one pharmacy only. This will help both you and your pharmacist to remember the drugs you are taking.

When you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor or physician will detect the type of diabetes you have developed and prescribe the required treatment and medication. You may also need to appoint a dietician who would prepare a special diet for you. Moreover, you also need to prepare special exercise regime which will help you burn the harmful fats which are also involved in increasing blood sugar level in your body.

Try to follow each and every advice given by the doctor. Don’t try doing anything on your own. Feel free to ask questions to your physician, doctor, nurse, pharmacist or dietician about the medicines and the treatment. If required ask them to help you learn the proper technique to use the insulin syringe or pens.

Have your family and friends with you, who will help and support you while you are going through the treatment. If you do all the necessary things according to the prescribed treatment, you will be able to recover quickly and become healthy as a horse like before!