Diabetes and Medication

Management of diabetes usually involves a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise and medication.

Diabetes and medicationDownload the Diabetes and Medication resource and learn about different classes of medication for diabetes, how they work and what the potential side effects are.

Medications prescribed for diabetes come in several different forms

  • Oral medication, which is taken by mouth and swallowed.
  • Injectable medication, which is injected into the fatty (subcutaneous) layer just under the skin surface.

Different classes of medication for diabetes

Whilst all diabetes medications assist with the management of blood glucose levels, they don’t all work in the same way. Medications are grouped into different classes depending on how they work within the body. Medications within these classes all have their own ‘active name’ which identifies the chemical in the medication that works within the body. The medications also have a ‘brand name’ or ‘trade name’ which is the name given to the medication by its manufacturer.

Often with type 2 diabetes, a single medication may be effective in managing blood glucose levels initially. Over time, however, as the condition progresses, or an individual’s circumstances change, additional medication may be added to existing medication to adequately manage blood glucose levels. It is important to note that the injectable medication, insulin is used in the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Know your medications

It is important to know the following about your medication:

  • Name of the medication you are taking
  • How long before an effect is seen after commencing or changing the dose of your medication — (i.e. when would I expect to see changes in my blood glucose levels)?
  • How many times a day should I take the medication, and should I take the dose before, after or with food?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • How will the medication affect my driving, alertness or my ability to operate machinery?
  • Will my medication increase my risk of hypoglycaemia (hypo)?
  • What do I need to do in relation to my medication if I am ill, fasting or having a surgical procedure?
  • Is this medication suitable during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Other considerations

  • Do not use other people’s medications or share your own with anyone else.
  • Review all the medications you are taking with your doctor and pharmacist to verify their effectiveness.
  • Carry a list of current medications with you at all times.
  • Store your medications correctly in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendation, check the expiry date prior to consumption and do not take out of date medications.

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