Medicine: Diabetes pills

Somali: Dawooyin - Kiniin

Some people need to take diabetes pills to help control blood glucose levels. These are not insulin, but they do help your body use its own insulin.

Your health care provider will decide what pill or pills will be most helpful to you. At some point your health care provider may change your pills for better blood glucose control.

Important things to know about your diabetes pills:

  • name and amount to take
  • when to take them
  • how they work
  • side effects
  • special warnings

If you are taking diabetes pills and become pregnant, check with your health care provider about your diabetes medicine. Other ways to manage your diabetes may be needed.

If you are traveling in an airplane, keep all of your medicines in their original containers with the pharmacy labels. Put your medicines in your carry-on luggage.

Medicines that increase insulin release

Sulfonylureas

Your amount: _________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Glucotrol®, Glucotrol XL® ( glipizide); Diabeta®, Micronase®, Glynase® ( glyburide); Amaryl® ( glimepiride)
  • When to take: With the meal.
  • What it does: Helps the body make more insulin and use it properly.
  • Possible side effects: Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose (most common), mild nausea (upset stomach), constipation or diarrhea, headache, stomach pain or upset, sensitivity of skin to sunlight and skin rash. Call your health care provider if side effects continue or worsen.

Glinides

Your amount:_________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Prandin® ( repaglinide), Starlix® ( nateglinide)
  • When to take: Before each meal, up to four times per day.
  • What it does: Helps the body make more insulin and use it properly. Works quickly to control blood glucose after a meal.
  • Possible side effects: Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose, upper respiratory infections or sinus infections. Call your health care provider if side effects continue or worsen.
  • Warning: If you miss a meal, do not take a dose.

Medicines that improve insulin sensitivity

Biguanides

Your amount: _________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Glucophage®, Glucophage XR®, Fortamet®, Glumetza® (metformin)
  • When to take: Take with a meal to help prevent stomach upset and diarrhea.
  • What it does: Makes the liver cells more sensitive to insulin, which decreases the amount of glucose made by the liver. This helps with blood glucose control. It helps your body use glucose better and may lower your blood fat levels. You may not see the full effect of this medicine for several weeks.
  • Possible side effects: Metallic taste, nausea, upset stomach or diarrhea may occur in the first few weeks of use. Taking this medicine along with insulin or sulfonylureas can cause hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. Call your health care provider if side effects continue or worsen.

Warnings:

  • Do not take this medicine if you have poor liver or kidney functioning or if you have severe congestive heart failure.
  • Do not drink large amounts of alcohol if you are on this medicine.
  • If you are having surgery or a test with dye, stop taking this medicine. Do not start taking it again for 48 hours after the surgery or test or until your doctor gives the OK.

Glitazones (TZDs)

Your amount: _________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Avandia® ( rosiglitazone), Actos® ( pioglitazone)
  • When to take: In the morning with food, or as directed by your health care provider.
  • What it does: It makes muscle and fat cells more sensitive to insulin. May also help lower your blood fat levels. You may not see the full effect of this medicine for several weeks.
  • Possible side effects: Taking these medicines with insulin or sulfonylureas can cause hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. You may also have headaches, cold-like symptoms and edema ( swelling, fluid weight gain). Call your doctor if side effects continue or worsen.

Warnings:

  • Do not take this medicine if you have poor liver function or severe congestive heart failure. Talk with your health care provider about how often you need to have liver enzyme tests when you are taking these medicines.
  • These medicines may affect oral contraceptives and increase the risk of becoming pregnant.

DPP-4

Your amount: _________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Januvia® ( sitagliptin), Onglyza® (saxagliptin), Tradjenta® (linagliptin), Nesina (alogliptin)
  • When to take: Take it once a day.
  • What it does: Increases the level of insulin produced by your body after meals, decreased the amount of glucose made by the body, and lowers blood glucose between meals. It prevents the breakdown of the hormone GLP1.
  • Possible side effects: Inflammation of the throat and skin reactions. If it is taken with metformin, you are at an increased risk of respiratory infections and headaches.

Medicines that slow carbohydrate use

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs)

Your amount: _________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Precose® ( acarbose), Glyset® ( miglitol)
  • When to take: With the first bite of your meal. You may be told to start by taking the pill with only one meal a day, then increase to each main meal.
  • What it does: Slows down the way your body breaks down carbohydrates. When this happens, glucose goes into the blood more slowly.
  • Possible side effects: Watch for increase in stomach gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea or skin rash. Taking these medicines with insulin or sulfonylureas can cause hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. Call your doctor if side effects continue or worsen.

Warning: Do not take this medicine if you have chronic digestive or intestinal problems, or kidney or liver disease.

Medicines that decrease glucose re-absorption in kidneys

Sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors

Your amount: _________________________________.

Take at: ______________________________________.

  • Medicine names: Farxiga™ (dapagliflozin), Invokana® (canagliflozin), Jardiance® (empagliflozin)
  • When to take: Take it once a day.
  • What it does: Prevents glucose from being absorbed back into the body in the kidneys. When this happens, an increased amount of glucose leaves your body through your urine.
  • Possible side effects: Urinary tract infections, increased urinary frequency, female genital infections, weight loss and an increase in blood pressure may occur. A decrease in blood pressure may occur.

Warning: This medicine is not effective if you have severe kidney disease.

Combination medicines

  • Actoplus Met® (pioglitazone and metformin)
  • Avandamet® (Avandia® and metformin)
  • DuetAct® (glimepiride and pioglitazone)
  • Glucovance® (glyburide and metformin)
  • Invokamet™ (canagliflozin and metformin)
  • Janumet® (Januvia® and metformin)
  • JentaDueto® (linagliptan and metformin)
  • Kazano (alogliptin and metformin)
  • Kombiglyze™ (saxagliptin and metformin)
  • Metaglip™ (glipizide and metformin)
  • Oseni (alogliptin and pioglitazone)
  • Prandimet (repaglinide and metformin)
  • Xigduo™ (empagliflozin and metformin)

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes, sixth edition
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/09/2015