People who have type 2 diabetes are not able to produce or process appropriate amounts of insulin. Insulin is essential to absorb the glucose in the cells of the body and supply the body with the energy it needs.
Treatment for diabetes generally includes exercise, diet modification, medication to decrease the blood sugar level, as well as insulin supplementation. If left untreated, the complications from this disease can include blindness, loss of limbs and kidney damage.
Insulin is used to treat diabetes because it controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Individuals who may be prescribed insulin therapy include:
While insulin lowers the blood sugar by taking glucose from the bloodstream, the non-insulin injections cause the body to actually release insulin. Non-insulin drugs can be used in combination with insulin to control blood glucose levels.
Non-Insulin Diabetes Treatments
Drugs called incretin mimetics have the ability to mimic particular substances that are found within the stomach and intestinal tract. When these substances are released in response to food consumption, insulin is released from the pancreas. Individuals with type 2 diabetes do not have this normal reaction, which interferes with insulin being released from the pancreas. For this reason, incretin mimetics are able to stimulate insulin release to help lower blood glucose levels. These kinds of medications are taken once or twice daily via injection.
The Three Non-Insulin Injections
1. Exenatide (Byetta)
This diabetes drug comes from the Gila monsters saliva. Byetta is a man-made version of the hormone glucagon-like-peptide-1(GLP-1). Normally, this hormone is released in the intestines during food consumption. Doctors prescribe this medication for people who have type 2 diabetes.
2. Pramlintide (Symlin)
This drug is a man-made version of the hormone amylin. This hormone is produced in the pancreas along with insulin when blood sugar levels increase. Symlin is usually prescribed to individuals who cannot decrease their A1C to the recommended number of less than 7.0 percent with the use of other medications. Doctors prescribe this medication for people who have type 1 diabetes and are taking insulin. Symlin is also prescribed for those with type 2 diabetes if they are taking insulin, a sulfonylurea drug and/or the medication metformin.
Symlin is taken in conjunction with insulin following a meal. The two medications work together to lower the sugar in the bloodstream. Symlin slows down digestion, which also decreases the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
3. Liraglutide (Victoza)
Victoza acts similarly to the hormone GLP-1. This medication is taken once a day. It helps the body release additional insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. This medication is prescribed for individuals who have type 2 diabetes. It is taken in conjunction with a sulphonylurea drug or metformin.
Insulin Classification as a Treatment for Diabetes
There are numerous kinds of insulin that can be used to treat diabetes. Insulin is classified according to several factors including:
The insulin classifications include long-acting insulin, intermediate acting insulin, regular/short acting insulin and rapid-acting insulin.
Some individuals will be prescribed several kinds of insulin. Spacing insulin doses throughout the day is essential to ensure that blood sugar levels remain within the normal range regardless of activity patterns or eating habits.
Oral, Non-Insulin Medication for Type 2 Diabetes
For decades, insulin was the only medication available to treat diabetes. Today, there are oral, non-insulin medications that can be used to treat type 2 diabetes. These drugs include the sulfonylurea class of drugs and metformin.
Metformin is generally the first drug that physicians recommend for individuals with type 2 diabetes who need medication. Because metformin does not work for everyone, researchers are still trying to find other treatment options for diabetes.
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