Mayo Clinic on Managing Diabetes

By Maria Collazo-Clavell | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Medications for type 2 diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which requires daily insulin, treatment of type 2 disease is more complex because you can take several routes to manage your blood sugar (glucose). For many people with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes alone can control it. For others, these changes aren't enough. Sooner or later, most people need the help of medication.

A variety of drug options exist for treatment of type 2 diabetes. In addition to insulin, five categories of oral medications are available. Each of these classes of medications has a different chemical structure and its own method for lowering blood sugar. Some oral diabetes medications stimulate your pancreas to produce more insulin, others help your body reduce its resistance to insulin, and still others slow your body's absorption of carbohydrates.

To effectively control your blood sugar, you may need more than one drug. Oral medications can be taken in combination with each other or in combination with insulin. Your doctor will determine if you need medication to control your blood sugar and which type. Most people begin with an oral drug.


Sulfonylureas

Sulfonylureas (SUL-fuh-nil-uh-REE-uhs) have been used for decades to control blood sugar. The drugs work by stimulating beta cells in your pancreas to produce more insulin. So, to benefit from the medication, your pancreas must be able to produce some insulin on its own.

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