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Drug Info

Diabetes medications and treatments

Cropped SingleCare logo By | September 27, 2019
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Hudson, APRN, NP-C

What is diabetes? | Diabetes diagnosis | Complications of diabetes | Diabetes treatment options | Diabetes medications | Best diabetes medications | Side effects of diabetes medication | Diabetes management with natural remedies | FAQ | Resources

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, also referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a health condition in which an individual has too much sugar in the bloodstream. It is caused by the body’s inability to metabolize glucose (sugar) from food as energy. Every cell in the body needs glucose to properly function. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, delivers glucose to the body’s cells via your bloodstream. Diabetes occurs when there is either a lack of insulin or the body can not use insulin properly, causing glucose to build up in the bloodstream, thereby causing blood sugar to rise. In some cases, the body does not make insulin on its own (type 1 diabetes). In other cases, the body does not make enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects (type 2 diabetes). 

According to a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control, over 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. Ninety to ninety five percent of those with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. There is no cure for diabetes but treatments include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, diabetes medication (oral agents and non-insulin injectables) and insulin therapy.

Some common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, unquenched thirst, and weight loss or gain. The symptoms of diabetes may occur for many years before diagnosis. Therefore, it’s important to understand who is at risk for diabetes diagnosis.

Diabetes diagnosis

Overweight adults, obese children, and individuals with a family history of diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Risk factors for developing type 1 diabetes include a family history of type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes is most common in children and type 2 diabetes is most common in adults, that is not always the case. 

The exact cause of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is unknown. However, it is widely accepted that contributing factors for both types include a combination of inherited genetic risk factors and environmental triggers. Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age, but is typically diagnosed in children. Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as “adult onset” diabetes, however, as child obesity becomes more common, so does the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children.

Frequently experiencing any of the above symptoms is a strong indicator that you may have diabetes. However, your primary care provider must conduct a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. One of the following blood tests may occur during your doctor’s office visit:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1c) Test: The HbA1c blood test is the most common testing in regards to diabetes. Test results display a patient’s average blood sugar level over the past two to three months.
    • Normal results: less than 5.7%
    • Prediabetic results: 5.7% to 6.4%
    • Diabetic results: 6.5% or higher
  • Fasting blood sugar test: Used if a patient has a rare form of hemoglobin or an A1c test is unavailable. This test involves taking a blood sample after a 12-hour fasting period.
    • Normal results: a reading less than 100 mg/dL
    • Prediabetic results: a reading between 100 to 125 mg/dL
    • Diabetic results: a reading higher than 126 mg/dL in two separate tests
  • Random blood sugar test: Also used if an A1c test is unavailable or a patient has uncommon hemoglobin. The random blood sugar test is conducted the same way as the fasting test. The difference is that it can be conducted regardless of when you last ate. Therefore, the readings are slightly different.
    • Diabetic results: a reading of 200 mg/dL or higher
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: This is the least common type of blood test for diabetes, but is regularly used during pregnancy to diagnose gestational diabetes. The test consists of an overnight fast, followed by having a fasting blood sugar level drawn at your doctor’s appointment the next day, immediately followed by consuming a sugary drink. Then your blood sugar levels are tested sporadically over a two hour period.
    • Normal results: a reading less than 140 mg/dL
    • Prediabetic results: a reading between 140 to 199 mg/dL
    • Diabetic results: a reading higher than 200 mg/dL, 2 hours after consuming the sugary liquid
  • If your physician suspects type 1 diabetes, they may order additional lab tests, including autoantibodies.

Once your blood test results come in, your physician may refer you to a diabetes specialist, known as an endocrinologist, to help manage your diabetes. Endocrinologists specialize in the glands of the endocrine system, including the pancreas. Individuals with a less severe diagnosis may not need to see an endocrinologist and can work with their primary care doctor to discuss management and treatment plans.

Questions you should ask your diabetes specialist after diagnosis

  1. What other health risks are associated with diabetes?
  2. How do I test my blood sugar?
  3. How often should I test my blood sugar?
  4. What types of medications and treatment plans could help my diabetes?
  5. Will exercising help my diabetes?
  6. How should my diet change as a result of my diabetes diagnosis?
  7. Will losing weight help my diabetes? If so, how much do I need to lose?
  8. Are my children at risk for diabetes?

The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening, every 3 years, for type 2 diabetes in individuals over the age of 45, especially those who are overweight (BMI greater than 25). 

Complications of diabetes

There are many health risks associated with untreated high blood sugar. Some of these include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney damage that can lead to kidney failure, including dialysis and transplant
  • Nerve damage that can lead to amputations
  • Eye damage that can lead to blindness
  • Skin conditions such as bacterial and fungal infections
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression

To prevent your diabetes from causing additional health complications, it’s important to know your treatment options.

Diabetes treatment options

There is currently no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed and prevented. Treatment options for diabetes vary depending on the type and symptoms experienced. Patients with diabetes can take prescription medications and/or modify their lifestyle to treat their disease and prevent flare-ups of diabetes symptoms.

Regardless of your diagnosis, those with diabetes can manage their condition with lifestyle modifications such as increased exercise and improved diet that leads to weight loss. Weight management is especially important for patients with prediabetes who have a high likelihood of developing diabetes. If you have diabetes or are at risk for a diabetes diagnosis, create an action plan for maintaining a healthy lifestyle with your doctor.

Type 1 diabetes treatments

Treatment for type 1 diabetes does require insulin, either through injections or the use of an insulin pump. Patients with type 1 diabetes also require frequent blood sugar monitoring, and are encouraged to count carbohydrates in their diet. 

Although in its infancy, recent research suggests cell therapy could be a future cure for type 1 diabetes. Cell therapy treatment consists of transplanting insulin-producing cells, that those with type 1 diabetes lack, into the pancreas. However, current limitations in cell therapy include complications with the immune system attacking or rejecting the transplanted cells, as well as, a lack of donors.

Another hopeful solution for those with type 1 diabetes is the creation of a mini-organ that contains insulin-producing cells that are encapsulated within a protective barrier invented by the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI).

Type 2 diabetes treatments

Most patients with type 2 diabetes are treated with medications that boost insulin production in combination with lifestyle adjustments that help lower blood sugar levels. One of the most popular type of drugs for those with type 2 diabetes currently on the market are a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists, which induce insulin production and suppresses glucagon, a hormone that keeps blood sugar levels from dropping too low, secretion from the liver. Traditionally, GLP-1 receptor agonists have been an injectable medication, but the first oral version is close to market.

Another potential treatment for type 2 diabetes targets the microbiome, or the bacteria that lives in the gut to fight disease and deliver the nutrients we consume from food to the rest of our body. Most people with diabetes have an unbalanced microbiome so research is being done to develop drugs that increase the good bacteria in the gut to improve insulin resistance.

Diabetes medications

For some diabetes patients, lifestyle modifications such as improved diet and physical activity can help achieve target blood sugar levels. Others may need diabetes medication or insulin therapy to manage blood glucose levels.

Most diabetes medications are prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients, however, some are used in tandem with insulin treatments in type 1 patients. 

There are nine classes of diabetes medications and a number of drugs that fall under each class. Below we outline each class of diabetes drugs, how they work, popular brands, potential benefits and possible side effects.


Biguanides are a class of medications that decrease the production of glucose in the liver, thus reducing the amount of sugar in the blood. They are also known as insulin sensitizers, which lower insulin resistance and allow your body to properly use its own insulin. The most popular drug that falls under the biguanide class is metformin, which comes in immediate release and extended release versions—metformin IR and metformin ER. IR is usually taken two times per day and ER once per day. Metformin is typically a monotherapy medication used as the first line of defense in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but can be combined with other medicines into one tablet.

Drugs in this class: metformin

Popular brand names

  • Glucophage
  • Glucophage XR (extended release metformin)
  • Glumetza
  • Fortamet
  • Riomet

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential Benefits: Lowers blood sugar and aids in weight management

Possible Side Effects: Gastrointestinal stress which includes diarrhea, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and increased flatulence.


Known as insulin secretagogues, sulfonylureas work by causing the pancreas to increase the release of insulin. Sulfonylureas bind to proteins in the pancreas to trigger insulin secretion. They are typically taken once or twice a day with a meal. In most cases, sulfonylureas are taken on their own or in conjunction with other diabetes medications.

Drugs in this class:

  • Amaryl (glimepiride)
  • DiaBeta (glyburide)
  • Diabinese (chlorpropamide)
  • Glipizide XL (extended release glipizide)
  • Glucotrol (glipizide)
  • Glucotrol XL (extended release glipizide)
  • Glycron (glyburide)
  • Glynase PresTab (glyburide micronized)
  • Micronase (glyburide)
  • Tol-Tab (tolbutamide)
  • Tolinase (tolazamide)

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential benefits: Lowering blood glucose levels

Possible side effects: Weight gain, hypoglycemia and itchy skin/rashes

AGIs (Alpha glucosidase inhibitors)

Nicknamed starch blockers, alpha glucosidase inhibitors reduce blood glucose levels after food consumption by slowing down the digestion of carbs. AGIs specifically work by blocking enzymes in the small intestines that break down carbs to prevent high blood sugar levels.

Drugs in this class:

  • Glyset (miglitol)
  • Precose (acarbose)

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential benefits: Lowers post-meal blood sugar and decreases appetite, preventing weight gain.

Possible side effects: Flatulence and diarrhea

Amylin analogues

Amylin analogues, also known as agonists, are used in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients and are designed to mimic the hormone amylin, an amino acid produced by the pancreas that aids in blood sugar management after food consumption. Amylin agonists are injected before meals.

Drugs in this class:

  • Symlin (pramlintide acetate)

How it’s taken: Injection

Potential benefits: Weight loss that results from a decrease in appetite and slow digestion; lower blood sugar

Possible side effects: Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain 

Thiazolidinediones (TZDs)

Also known as glitazones, thiazolidinediones (TZDs) work to lower blood sugar by reducing the body’s resistance to insulin. TZDs accomplish this by binding to PPAR-gamma receptors which reside in fat cells and are responsible for metabolizing glucose and managing how the body stores fat. TZDs work together with PPAR-gamma receptors to deposit fat cells into surrounding tissue to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Thiazolidinediones can be used as a single treatment (monotherapy) or in conjunction with other diabetes drugs.

Drugs in this class:

  • Avandia (rosiglitazone)
  • Actos (pioglitazone)

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential benefits: lower blood glucose levels without causing hypoglycemia, lower blood pressure, increase lipid metabolism which increases the amount of good cholesterol in the bloodstream

Possible side effects: Weight gain, increase in LDL cholesterol 

DPP-4 inhibitors (Gliptins)

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, also known as gliptins, are prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients who don’t respond well to other diabetes drugs such as metformin and sulfonylureas. They are typically the second- or third-line of defense.

It works by inhibiting an enzyme called DPP-4 from destroying hormones in the intestines called incretins that stimulate the production of insulin after a meal. DPP-4 inhibitors also slow down digestion and decrease appetite.

Drugs in this class:

  • Januvia (sitagliptin)
  • Galvus (vildagliptin)
  • Onglyza (saxagliptin)
  • Tradjenta (linagliptin)
  • Nesina (alogliptin)

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential benefits: Lower blood sugar, reduce appetite leading to weight loss

Possible side effects: Pancreatitis, gastrointestinal discomfort, joint pain, flu-like symptoms, and skin rashes

SGLT2 inhibitors (Gliflozins)

SGLT2 is an abbreviation for sodium-glucose co-transporter-2. These inhibitors, also known as gliflozins, lower blood glucose levels in the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering glucose out of the blood and then reabsorbing it via sodium-glucose transport proteins. SGLT2 inhibitors work by preventing these proteins from reabsorbing glucose back into the blood and the patient urinates out the excess.

Drugs in this class:

  • Steglatro (ertugliflozin)
  • Farxiga (dapagliflozin)
  • Invokana (canagliflozin)
  • Jardiance (empagliflozin)

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential benefits: Weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar

Possible side effects: Hypoglycemia, increased risk of UTIs and yeast infections, and in rare cases, lead to diabetic ketoacidosis or cause necrotizing fasciitis of the genitals (also called Fournier’s gangrene)

GLP-1 receptor agonists (Incretin mimetics) 

Incretin mimetic drugs, also called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists or GLP-1 analogues, are an injectable drug for diabetes patients who don’t respond favorably to oral diabetes medications. GLP-1 analogues work by mimicking the hormone incretin which lowers post-meal blood sugar levels by increasing the release of insulin after eating, reducing the release of glucagon and slowing the absorption of glucose in the blood.

Drugs in this class:

  • Adlyxin (lixisenatide)
  • Bydureon (exenatide extended release)
  • Bydureon BCise (exenatide extended release)
  • Byetta (exenatide)
  • Lyxumia (lixisenatide)
  • Trulicity (dulaglutide)
  • Tanzeum (albiglutide)
  • Victoza (liraglutide)
  • Saxenda (liraglutide)
  • Ozempic (semaglutide)

How it’s taken: Injection

Potential benefits: Weight loss and lower blood sugar

Possible side effects: Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, constipation, etc.)


Also known as prandial glucose regulators or glinides, meglitinides prevent spikes in blood sugar levels after eating by stimulating the release of insulin. This is done by binding to proteins in the pancreas that secrete insulin hormone. They are similar to sulfonylureas but have a more rapid onset and last for a shorter period of time. 

Drugs in this class:

  • Prandin (repaglinide)
  • Starlix (nateglinide)

How it’s taken: Orally

Potential benefits: Lower blood sugar

Possible side effects: Hypoglycemia, allergic reactions (such as skin irritation as rash), gastrointestinal issues

Combination medications 

There are many diabetes medications that combine the pharmacological effects of two medications into one, either orally or through injection. One of the benefits of combined medications is having to take less pills or injections. However, this does have its disadvantages as well, including difficulty adjusting medication dosages, as most combined medications have limited options in dosing for the two medications combined versus when taken separately. 

  • ActoPlus Met – pioglitazone(TZD) and metformin (biguanide)
  • ActoPlus Met XR – pioglitazone (TZD) and extended release metformin (biguanide)
  • Avandamet – rosiglitazone (TZD) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Avandaryl – glimepiride (sulfonylurea) and rosiglitiazone (TZD)
  • Duetact – glimepiride (sulfonylurea) and pioglitazone (TZD)
  • Glucovance – glyburide (sulfonylurea) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Glyxambi – linagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and empagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor)
  • Invokamet – canagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Invokamet XR – canagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and extended release metformin (biguanide)
  • Janumet – sitagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Janumet XR – sitagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and extended release metformin (biguanide)
  • Jentadueto – linagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Jentadueto XR – linagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and extended release metformin (biguanide)
  • Kazano – alogliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Kombiglyze XR – saxagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Metaglip – metformin (biguanide) and glipizide (sulfonylurea)
  • Oseni – alogliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor) and pioglitazone (Actos)
  • PrandiMet – repaglinide (meglitinide) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Qtern – dapagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and saxagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor)
  • Segluromet – ertugliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Steglujan – ertugliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and sitagliptin (DPP-4 inhibitor)
  • Synjardy – empagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and metformin (biguanide)
  • Synjardy XR – empagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and extended release metformin (biguanide)
  • Xigduo XR – dapagliflozin (SGLT-2 inhibitor) and extended release metformin (biguanide)

Insulin therapy 

Insulin therapy is a common treatment for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The goal of insulin therapy is to manage blood sugar levels by keeping them within a target range. This type of diabetes treatment is administered most commonly via an insulin injection or an insulin pump. There is also an inhaled insulin, though this is used infrequently due contraindications and diagnostic testing and monitoring required. 

There are multiple types of insulin and each vary based on how long they take to begin working, when they reach maximum effectiveness and how long their effects last. Most doctors prescribe a variety of insulin types to be taken at different times of the day in an effort to mimic the body’s own natural insulin production. 

Insulin types include:

Ultra long-acting insulin 

  • Concentrated insulin glargine – Toujeo U-300

Long-acting insulin 

  • Insulin glargine – Lantus, Basaglar
  • Insulin detemir – Levemir
  • Insulin degludec – Tresiba U-100, concentrated Tresiba U-200
  • Concentrated Regular insulin – Humulin R U-500

Intermediate-acting insulin

  • NPH (Humulin N, Novolin N, Novolin ReliOn N)

Short-acting insulin

  • Regular insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R, Novolin ReliOn R)

Rapid-acting insulin

  • Insulin aspart (Novolog, Fiasp)
  • Insulin glulisine (Apidra)
  • Insulin lispro (Humalog U-100, concentrates Humalog U-200, Admelog)

Mixed insulins

  • Humalog Mix 50/50 – 50% NPH, 50% Humalog (lispro)
  • Humalog Mix 75/25 – 75% NPH, 25% Humalog (lispro)
  • Novolog Mix 70/30 – 70% NPH, 30% Novolog (aspart)
  • Humulin 50/50 – 50% NPH, 50% regular 
  • Humulin 70/30, Novolin 70/30, Novolin ReliOn 70/30 – 70% NPH, 30% regular

Rapid-acting inhalation powder

  • Insulin human (Afrezza inhalation powder)

Potential benefits: Improved blood sugars

Possible side effects: Hypoglycemia, weight gain, rash, flu-like symptoms

Combination insulins (long-acting insulin and GLP-1 agonist)

  • Xultophy (insulin deludec and liraglutide)
  • Soliqua (insulin glarine and lixisenatide)

What other drugs are taken in conjunction with diabetes medications?

In addition to drugs that target blood glucose levels and insulin resistance and production, diabetes patients may also need to take additional medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, such as aspirin, to prevent heart disease.

Can more than one diabetes drug be taken at once?

Yes, depending on the situation more than one diabetes medication can be prescribed to lower blood sugar levels. However, taking a combination of drugs for diabetes can be more costly and increase the risk of side effects.

Best diabetes medications

The diabetes medication you choose largely depends on your blood sugar levels and medical history. Additionally, patients should consider how their diabetes medication may react with other drugs they are taking and how they respond to a specific diabetic treatment.

Use the following chart of commonly prescribed medications to understand your diabetes treatment options. Always be sure to consult your endocrinologist and primary care physician to find the best diabetes medication for you. Your doctor will determine the best diabetes drug for you based on your condition, medical history, and current list of medications. 

Drug Name Drug Class Type of Diabetes Administration Standard Dosage How It Works Side Effects
Metformin Biguanide Type 2 Oral 500 to 2,550 mg per day Prevents glucose production Gastrointestinal stress
Bydureon GLP-1 Type 2 Injection 2 mg weekly Lowers post-meal blood sugar by increasing insulin secretion Hypoglycemia

Gastrointestinal problems

Acute pancreatitis

Jardiance SGLT2 Inhibitors Type 2 Oral 10 to 25 mg per day Helps kidneys remove glucose from the bloodstream through urination Ketoacidosis



Lantus Insulin Type 1 and 2 Injection Varies Lowers blood sugar through long-acting insulin injection Hypoglycemia



Soliqua 100/33 Insulin Type 2 Injection 15 to 60 units per day Lowers blood sugar via insulin injection that also contains GLP-1 which suppresses glucagon levels Hypoglycemia
Gastrointestinal problemsWeight gain
Toujeo Solostar Insulin Type 1 and 2 Injection Varies Lowers blood sugar through concentrated long-acting insulin injection Hypoglycemia



Trulicity GLP-1 Type 2 Injection 0.75 to 1.5 mg per week Lowers post-meal blood sugar by increasing insulin secretion Hypoglycemia


Gastrointestinal stress

Victoza GLP-1 Type 2 Injection 0.6 to 1.8 mg per week Lowers post-meal blood sugar by increasing insulin secretion Hypoglycemia


Renal Impairment

Side effects of diabetes medication

The side effects of diabetes medications vary based on drug class and patient. The following list of potential adverse side effects caused by diabetes medications is not exhaustive, but rather covers common side effects associated with popular diabetes treatments. You may not experience any of the following side effects, but if you do, consult your doctor. As with any new medication, make sure to read all patient information associated with the drug.

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): associated with nearly all anti-diabetic drugs
  • Weight gain: most common with sulfonylureas, meglitinides, TZDs, and insulin
  • Weight loss: most common with Amylin Analogues, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT-2 inhibitors, and GLP-1 Receptor Agonists.
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort: includes side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, constipation, and increased flatulence. Most common with sulfonylureas, metformin, AGIs.
  • Adverse skin reactions: such as rashes or irritation. Common with sulfonylureas, DPP-4 inhibitors, and meglitinides.
  • Ketoacidosis: This is a condition in which there are high levels of byproducts of fatty acids in the blood called ketones. Most common with SGLT-2 inhibitors.

Disclosure: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible side effects associated with diabetes medications. For a complete list of possible adverse events and drug interactions caused by specific diabetes medications, please talk to a healthcare professional.

Can diabetes be treated naturally?

In short, yes. Although diabetes can’t be cured, you can manage it without the use of medications. In fact, with a handful of lifestyle changes, some patients with type 2 diabetes never need to go on drugs.

Natural treatments for diabetes include:

  • Weight loss. Keeping off weight naturally lowers blood glucose. Even losing as little as five to ten percent of your body weight can significantly impact blood sugar levels for the better.
    • Improved diet. While there is no official diabetes diet, it’s important for those with diabetes to consume fewer calories, refined carbs, and saturated fats to stabilize blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Daily exercise. Those with diabetes are encouraged to get at least 30 minutes to an hour of moderate activity five days out of the week. Physical activity helps weight loss, and keeps blood sugar levels down.
    • Monitoring blood sugar. The key to diabetes management is to keep track of your blood sugar on a regular basis to make sure it stays within your target range. Discuss how frequently you should check your levels with your doctor.
  • Vitamins and supplements. There are also a number of natural vitamins and supplements available to help lower blood sugar. Some of these include cinnamon, probiotics, aloe vera, vitamin D, and magnesium, to name a few.

All patients with diabetes are encouraged to engage in the natural treatments for diabetes listed above, even if they must take medication or insulin therapy as well.

Frequently asked questions about diabetes

What diabetes drugs cause weight gain?

  • Sulfonylureas
  • Meglitinides
  • TZDs
  • Insulin

Which diabetes medications cause weight loss?

  • Amylin Analogues
  • DPP-4 
  • SGLT2 Inhibitors — Jardiance
  • GLP-1 Receptor Agonists (Incretin Mimetics) — Trulicity, Victoza, Byetta, Bydureon, Ozempic
  • Metformin

What is the safest diabetes medication?

Metformin is considered the safest, most effective medication for treating type 2 diabetes.

What is the latest drug for diabetes?

Rybelsus (semaglutide), an oral GLP-1 receptor agonist, approved for the treatment of those with type 2 diabetes. All other current GLP-1 receptor agonists on the market are injectable, making an oral version more appealing to a wider group of patients. It was FDA approved as of September 20, 2019. 

There is also a half-priced, generic version of the rapid-acting insulin Humalog, marketed under the name insulin lispro, available as of 2019. This newer, less expensive version is available in both vials and pens. 

What is a dangerous level of blood sugar?

Blood sugar levels below 70 mg/dL and above 130 mg/dL (before eating) are considered dangerous. Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, is often caused by diabetes medications and can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death. On the other hand, high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is often associated with diabetes and obesity and can lead to heart attack, kidney failure, and stroke.

If your blood sugar drops below 70, eat something, preferably carbs, right away. Wait about 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar. If your levels remain low, call your doctor right away. If your blood sugar rises above 130 before a meal or 180 after a meal, contact your doctor and drink lots of water to help remove excess sugar from the blood. Hyperglycemia requires long-term management.

Related resources for diabetes: