Noninsulin medicines for type 2 diabetes
Information about this medicine
What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines?
Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.
The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Why are noninsulin medicines for diabetes used?
Noninsulin medicines for diabetes help you control blood sugar. They are used to treat type 2 diabetes. You take oral medicines by mouth. Some noninsulin medicines are injected into the body with a needle.
One of the noninsulin medicines, metformin, is sometimes used to treat prediabetes.
What are some examples of noninsulin medicines for diabetes?
Here are some examples of noninsulin medicines for diabetes.
Some of these medicines may be combined in one pill.
- canagliflozin (Invokana)
- exenatide (Byetta)
- glimepiride (Amaryl)
- glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)
- metformin (Glucophage)
- pioglitazone (Actos)
- sitagliptin (Januvia)
This is not a complete list.
How do noninsulin medicines for diabetes work?
There are different types of noninsulin medicines for diabetes. Each type works in a different way to help you control your blood sugar. For example, some types of noninsulin medicines help your body make insulin to lower your blood sugar. Others lower how much insulin your body needs. Some types can slow how quickly your body digests sugars or can remove extra glucose through your urine.
What about side effects?
All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.
But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.
If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine. Don't suddenly stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor first.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Cautions about noninsulin medicines for diabetes
Cautions for noninsulin medicines for diabetes include the following:
- It is important to check your blood sugar as your doctor says. If a medicine is not working well, you may need to try other medicines or combinations.
Cautions for all medicines
- Allergic reactions: All medicines can cause a reaction. This can sometimes be an emergency. Before you take any new medicine, tell the doctor or pharmacist about any past allergic reactions you've had.
- Drug interactions: Sometimes one medicine may keep another medicine from working well. Or you may get a side effect you didn't expect. Medicines may also interact with certain foods or drinks, like grapefruit juice and alcohol. Some interactions can be dangerous.
- Harm to unborn babies and newborns: If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the medicines you take could harm your baby.
- Other health problems: Before taking a medicine, be sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all your health problems. Other health problems may affect your medicine. Or the medicine for one health problem may affect another health problem.
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Current as of: December 19, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Theresa O'Young PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology