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Tablets and medication

There are a number of different medications available to people with diabetes, all of which work in a variety of different ways. Not all treatments are suitable for everyone, so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself needing to change or stop certain medications. Your GP or healthcare professional can help you find a medication that’s best for your individual needs.

  • Biguanide (Metformin)

    If you have Type 2 diabetes, metformin is usually the first diabetes medication prescribed if a healthy diet and physical activity alone has not sufficiently helped to control your blood sugar levels (also called blood glucose levels).
  • Sulphonylureas

    Tablets in this family work by stimulating the cells in your pancreas to make more insulin, helping it to work more effectively within your body.
  • Alpha glucosidase inhibitor (Acarbose)

    Arcabose slows down the intestine's absorption of starchy foods, in turn, slowing down any rise in blood sugar levels after meals.
  • Prandial glucose regulators

    Similar to sulphonylureas, this medication stimulates the cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin. They work much quicker than sulphonylureas, but only last for a short time, so are taken half an hour before each meal.
  • Thiazolidinediones (glitazones)

    This medication reduces insulin resistance and improves sensitivity, allowing the insulin that your body produces to work more effectively. Additionally, it helps to protect the cells in the pancreas, allowing them to produce insulin for a longer period of time.
  • GLP-1’s (incretin mimetics)

    This medication increases the level of incretins in the body. Incretin hormones help the body to produce more insulin when needed and reduce the amount of glucose production when it's not needed.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors (gliptins)

    DPP-4 inhibitors work by blocking the action of DPP-4, an enzyme that destroys the hormone, incretin. DPP-4 inhibitors work by blocking the action of DPP-4, an enzyme that destroys the hormone, incretin.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors

    This medication reduces the amount of glucose absorbed by your kidneys and your blood.
  • Statins

    This medication helps you lower your bad cholesterol. Statins are a commonly used medication and are often prescribed for people with diabetes to help them manage their condition. This is because having diabetes increases the risk of heart diseases, such as heart attack and stroke. 

Side effects

You may experience some side effects from your medication. If you do, speak to your doctor as there may be an alternative medication that you could try instead.

Side effects will depend on the type of medication you are taking, but they could include:

  • hypos
  • weight loss or weight gain 
  • bloating and diarrhoea
  • feeling sick

You should always check the patient information leaflet (PIL) supplied with your medication to see a more detailed list of the side effects you might experience. However, don’t be put off by the list as you may not experience any at all. 

If do you experience any severe side effects or reactions, make sure you seek medical attention straight away.

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